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Moderate, pragmatic and "boring", who is the new British Prime Minister?

Photo: Oli Scarff Agence France-Presse British Labor leader Keir Starmer during a speech in Manchester on June 13

Matthew Carbasse

Posted at 6:49 a.m. Updated at 6:01 p.m.

  • Europe

At the end of an electoral campaign conducted without much fanfare, the leader of the Labor Party ended 14 years of conservative rule. His detractors criticize him for his lack of charisma, his supporters rather welcome the refocusing of a party of which he took the reins in 2020. Promising him the return of “seriousness” in the management of the affairs of the kingdom. Presentation of a new prime minister lacking popularity.

“Mr Boring”, “Mr. Boring” in the original version, the nickname is surprising for a political leader who has just led his party to a resounding victory and who is about to enter 10 Downing Street.

Yet this nickname sticks to Keir Starmer, a future prime minister who is far from unanimous, including in his own camp.

But how then did this 61-year-old lawyer achieve the feat of putting an end to the unchallenged reign of the Conservative Party while remaining largely unpopular with the British ?< /p>

In an interview with Devoir, Alexander Macleod, professor of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal and specialist in the United Kingdom, advances an explanation.

“He’s a good lawyer but a poor speaker,” he warns. But even if he is not popular, in the sense of someone who attracts people with his charisma, he is a solid politician. He is composed, does not get angry easily… and managed to get his hands on the Labor Party by excluding its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This is a real victory for him! »

A moderate who arrived late in politics

Lawyer specializing in human rights, Attorney General of the United Kingdom from 2008 to 2013, Keir Starmer arrived late on the British political scene.

Elected as an MP in 2015, he took control of the Labor Party in 2020 following Mr Corbyn's resignation due to Labor's failure in the 2019 general election.

< p>Relying on the moderate wing of his political party, Starmer repositioned his party more at the center of the political spectrum, cutting itself off from the most radical fringe and eliminating all forms of anti-Semitism within it. He even ended up excluding Jeremy Corbin from the Labor Party, guilty of alienating more moderate voters.

“Keir Starmer reassures many voters who do not traditionally vote Labour,” continues Alexander Macleod. Even though he is presented as a politician with a quiet personality, flamboyant personalities do not necessarily make the best leaders. His calm and pragmatic side is appreciated and reassures moderate voters. »

In fact, Keir Starmer's great achievement is to have been able to take advantage of the British desire for change after 14 years of conservative power.

Failing to propose a bold program, he bet on the card of political alternation by presenting himself as an acceptable recourse to the conservatives.

< p>More than a victory for Labor, its victory is therefore first and foremost the defeat of the Conservatives, also attacked from their right by Nigel Farage's party, Reform UK.

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Criticized by the left wing of his party

Originally from North London and fan of the Arsenal soccer club , Keir Starmer comes from a modest background, which he does not fail to highlight to appeal to the traditional electorate of the Labor Party.

If he himself a socialist, his detractors within the British left criticize him for belonging to the London elite more than to the middle class hard hit by inflation and the deterioration of public services, two central themes of this election.

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2014, which earned him the title of Sir, Keir Starmer is not an ideologue and avoids promises that he knows he cannot keep.

To those who criticize his lack of ideas and vision during the campaign, the person concerned promises the return of “seriousness”, ensuring that he does not have a “magic wand” in the face of the difficulties facing the country .

Besides, the British are not deluding themselves. In the polls which accompanied the electoral campaign, the latter do not believe in the prospects of change linked to Labor coming to power.

No big changes coming

While we should not expect major upheavals on the British political scene, one of Keir Starmer's first projects at 10 Downing Street will be to cancel the agreement between London and Kigali that provides for the transfer of illegal immigrants intercepted at the United Kingdom's borders to Rwanda.

The deterioration of public services, particularly health services, which are going through a deep crisis, will also be a major issue at the start of his term, even if he does not have much room for maneuver compared to his predecessor.

The only radical measure in Starmer's program: imposing a tax on tuition fees in private education in order to reduce the divide within the population, a measure applauded by the working class.

Discreet on relations with the European Union

In favour of the integration of the United Kingdom into the European Union, he is not expected to return to Brexit during his term.

Moreover, he himself affirms: during his lifetime, he does not believe that he will see the United Kingdom reintegrate the European Union.

He will not we should therefore not expect a rapprochement between London and Brussels on an institutional level.

“He considered that this is not the time to question the Brexit so as not to alienate pro-Brexit Labor, concludes Alexander Macleod. However, according to all polls, the majority of British people are not in favor of Brexit. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116