London, April 5 Keir Starmer, a former human rights lawyer and an MP since 2015, has replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UKs main opposition Labour Party, after the latter's resignation following a crushing defeat in the December 2019 general elections.
Starmer, 57, saw off his competitors Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, securing more than half of the votes of party members, reports Efe news.
His appointment was announced on Saturday via social media after the coronavirus pandemic forced the party to cancel its plans to hold a public event.
Starmer won 56.2 per cent of the ballots, 275,780 votes, compared to 27.6 per cent for Long-Bailey, 135,218 votes, and 16.2 per cent for the Indian-origin Nandy, 79,597 votes.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner was appointed as deputy party leader, replacing Tom Watson.
Labour has started the process of rebuilding after suffering a crushing setback in last year's general election, which saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson storm into 10 Downing Street with an absolute majority.
Starmer said in a video statement released online: "It is the honour and the privilege of my life to be elected as leader of the Labour Party. It comes at a moment like none other in our lifetime."
He vowed to "lead this great party into a new era, with confidence and with hope. So that when the time comes, we can serve our country again in government".
The most pressing task ahead of him will be supporting the management of the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Under my leadership we will engage constructively with the government, not opposition for opposition's sake. Not scoring party political points or making impossible demands," Starmer added.
He has accepted an offer from Johnson to meet next week to discuss the country's health crisis.
Johnson said in an open letter to leaders of opposition parties that all politic "have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency".
There have been more than 36,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK and around 3,600 deaths.
( With inputs from IANS )