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Keir Starmer Assumes Office as U.K.’s New Prime Minister

Sir Keir Starmer assumed office as Britain’s new Prime Minister on Friday after his Labour Party delivered a decisive win in the general election.

“Across our country, people will be waking up to the news that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this nation,” a jubilant Mr. Starmer told supporters in central London in the early hours of Friday morning.

Using the analogy of a rising “sunlight of hope,” pale at first and getting stronger, he said the country had “an opportunity after 14 years to get its future back.”

Mr. Starmer replaces Rishi Sunak, who took office less than two years ago and called Mr. Starmer to congratulate him.

Mr. Starmer, a 61-year-old former human rights lawyer, has led a remarkable turnaround for the Labour Party, which just a few years ago suffered its worst election defeat since the 1930s. He has pulled the party to the political center while capitalizing on the failings of three Conservative prime ministers.

“He has been ferociously — some would say tediously — boring in his discipline,” Jill Rutter, a research fellow at the London research group U.K. in a Changing Europe, told The New York Times recently. “He’s not going to set hearts racing, but he does look relatively prime-ministerial.”

Mr. Starmer was raised in a left-wing, working-class family in Surrey, outside London. He was not close with his father; his mother, a nurse, suffered a debilitating illness that took her in and out of the hospital. Mr. Starmer became the first college graduate in his family, studying first at Leeds University, and then law at Oxford.

He was named after Keir Hardie, a Scottish trade unionist who was Labour’s first leader. As a young lawyer, he represented protesters accused of libel by McDonald’s. He later rose to become Britain’s chief prosecutor and was awarded a knighthood.

Elected to Parliament in 2015, he succeeded the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2020 and began remaking the party. He dropped Mr. Corbyn’s proposal to nationalize Britain’s energy companies and promised not to raise taxes on working families. He committed to supporting Britain’s military, hoping to banish an anti-patriotic label that clung to Labour during the Corbyn era.

NEW YORK TIMES

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