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Stortford Labour backs Sir Keir Starmer to be new leader

Labour members in Bishop's Stortford are backing Sir Keir Starmer to be their party's new leader.

They chose the 57-year-old MP for Holborn and St Pancras as the best challenger to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the dispatch box.

The renowned defence lawyer is a former Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service. He is currently Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and was appointed to the shadow cabinet by outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer

At a meeting of the Hertford and Stortford Constituency Labour Party in the New Apton Centre in Stortford, members debated the merits of all four candidates before deciding Sir Keir should get their endorsement.

Candidates need to secure enough constituency endorsements to proceed to the next round, a membership ballot.

The Stortford debate was attended by 43 members, many of whom were attending their first Labour Party meeting specifically so they could participate in the nomination process.

Hertford and Stortford Constituency Labour Party debates who should be the new leader (29224127)
Hertford and Stortford Constituency Labour Party debates who should be the new leader (29224127)

Sir Keir beat Rebecca Long-Bailey, 40, who is MP for Salford and Eccles and serves as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Lisa Nandy, also 40, the MP for Wigan who resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2016; and Emily Thornberry, 59, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Shadow First Secretary of State.

Hertford and Stortford Labour chairman David Jacobs said that there was a "long and good-natured" debate on the merits of all four candidates.

"I think Keir secured our nomination because he has spent his life fighting injustice and standing up to the powerful," he said. "As leader of the Labour Party, he will bring the Labour movement together and, at the same time, retain the radicalism of the last four years."

Mr Jacobs believed Sir Keir would appeal to voters outside the movement.

"Labour is an anti-austerity party. We believe in common ownership. We want a fairer and more peaceful world. We have led the way on climate change and the need for a Green New Deal. With Keir's leadership, we will be in an excellent position to return to Government when Boris Johnson's dangerous flirtation with extremist policies comes crashing down around him."

The Stortford members did not nominate a candidate for deputy leader to replace Tom Watson after voting was deadlocked and they could not separate Brent South MP Dawn Butler and Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner. Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan, Leeds East MP Richard Burgon and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray are also in the running.

The membership ballot begins on February 21 and ends on April 2. The results will be announced on April 4 at the party's national conference.

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