Labour gets a new leader

Keir Starmer, who opposed Brexit, has been elected as the new leader of the Labour Party and thus of the opposition in the UK. The party suffered a historic defeat in the December general election under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. Will a more pragmatic Labour leader be able to shake up British politics in these times of the coronavirus crisis?

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

New leader Starmer stands a better chance

The new Labour leader's pragmatic political style could bring the party majority results once more, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes:

“After the desolate end of almost five years under left-wing outsider Corbyn and his comrades-in-arms an outspoken pragmatist is now taking over. The contrast with Starmer's predecessor in terms of disposition, temperament and career could hardly be more extreme. And one needn't think long about his supporters' motives. Starmer stands the best chance of being trusted to present a credible alternative to Boris Johnson's government. And the prime minister will likely have a tougher time confronting Starmer in Parliament than he had against the dogmatist Corbyn.”

El País (ES) /

Left-wing health policy back in demand

The opposition now has a potentially decisive advantage, El País believes:

“The new Labour leader faces the challenge of regaining the confidence of the electorate, which gave the radical-conservative positions of Boris Johnson and his Brexit strategy a significant victory in last December's general election. But the Brexit has now been overshadowed by an emergency that is highlighting the urgency of public investment, for example in healthcare. And these are traditional Labour demands. So although Corbyn's proposals for change and social investment may have seemed too extreme to voters under normal circumstances, in the new circumstances they are proving necessary.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Sadly no Tony Blair

Even under its new leader Labour won't return to a moderate course, The Daily Telegraph laments:

“A leopard doesn't change its spots, and Sir Keir's victory still represents the triumph of the party's Left. He's not as radical as Jeremy Corbyn (few could be), but he is another Left-wing Londoner and, unlike his predecessor, a passionate Remainer who will, no doubt, use this crisis as a pretext to demand that Britain back out of Brexit. His policies were deliberately vague, but he did nothing to indicate that he is the sort of transformative, Blair-like centrist the party needs.”