Keir Starmer has pledged to create a “balanced” shadow cabinet as he begins appointing his top team after winning a landslide victory in the Labour leadership contest.
The new leader of the opposition said he would recruit a diverse team from across the country and party who “want to serve towards the future aim of winning that next general election”.
He has vowed to make it his “mission” to reconnect the party with the public, saying Labour needs to change so trust can be regained.
Starmer secured 56% of the 490,731 votes cast in the three-month contest – beating his rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy to replace Jeremy Corbyn.
“I will have in my shadow cabinet those that want to serve towards the future aim of winning that next general election,” he told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.
“It will be a talented, balanced shadow cabinet.”
He has vowed to engage constructively with the Government amid the coronavirus crisis, saying he will not seek to score party political points – nor demand the impossible.
On Brexit, Starmer said that the Government “should extend” the transition period “if it’s necessary to do so” because of the pandemic.
Angela Rayner won the deputy leadership with 52.6% of the vote in the third round, and promised to “do everything” to repay her supporters’ trust.
She acknowledged that the party had “let down” the Jewish community and also had to win back the respect of voters who had left the party to vote Tory.
A large clear-out of the current frontbench cohort is widely expected when Sir Keir appoints his shadow cabinet, but some less well-known shadow ministers could be given more prominent roles.
Anneliese Dodds and Nick Thomas-Symonds are among those being hotly-tipped for senior positions, while MPs on Sir Keir’s campaign team could also be in line for jobs.
Starmer, who entered Parliament in 2015, has said Labour will “make the argument for a better future” under his leadership – but will first need to restore people’s trust in the party as a “force for good and a force for change”.
Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: “To begin to restore that trust, I will make it my mission to reconnect Labour with the public. I want to build a coalition in all parts of the country, no matter how people previously voted.
“We must be a party of government again capable of answering to the electorate across the whole of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“Never again can Labour be a party that millions of people feel they cannot trust to govern, to manage our economy or to keep our country safe.
“Make no mistake: our party needs to change so that trust can be regained. We must become a credible government-in-waiting and get back to a position where we can make a real difference to people’s lives. Where that requires us to rethink, we will. And where that requires us to apologise, we will.”
Starmer also reiterated the apology he made to the Jewish community in his acceptance speech, saying Labour has been “shamed” over the past years by anti-Semitism.
Shortly before the result was announced on Saturday morning, Boris Johnson wrote to opposition party leaders inviting them to a coronavirus briefing as he insisted “we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency”.
The Prime Minister congratulated Sir Keir in a call on Saturday afternoon and the pair agreed to meet next week to discuss the Covid-19 crisis.
Former Labour leader Mr Corbyn said he looks forward to working with Sir Keir and Ms Rayner, and told them leading the party is a “great honour and responsibility”.
Defeated leadership candidate Ms Long-Bailey said Sir Keir would be a “brilliant prime minister”, and she pledged to “do all I can to make that a reality”.
Ms Nandy said he would have her “full support in the challenges that lie ahead”.
Sir Keir won 275,780 votes out of 490,731 returned ballots – equivalent to 56.2% – while Ms Long-Bailey came second with 135,218 votes (27.6%) and Ms Nandy was last with 79,597 (16.2%).
He won more votes than Mr Corbyn, who in 2015 secured 251,417 of the 422,664 votes cast, but his predecessor secured a higher vote share (59.5%).