Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks in London following the Equality and Human Rights Commission's announcement that it has concluded its monitoring of the Labour Party, Feb. 15, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

Keir Starmer, who prioritized fighting antisemitism in Labour Party, becomes Britain’s PM after landslide win

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Keir Starmer, who prioritized fighting antisemitism in Labour Party, becomes Britain’s PM after landslide win

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks in London following the Equality and Human Rights Commission's announcement that it has concluded its monitoring of the Labour Party, Feb. 15, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)

(JTA) — Keir Starmer, a centrist who worked to fight antisemitism in his party, has become the United Kingdom’s prime minister following Labour’s landslide victory in British elections Thursday.

With nearly all results in, Labour had won 412 seats out of the 650 in parliament, ending 14 years of Conservative rule in the U.K. The defeat for the Conservatives, who won just 121 as of Friday morning, is the worst in its nearly two-century history. Reform UK, a populist right-wing party, won a handful of seats, while the centrist Liberal Democrats won more than 70.

Several of the Conservative Party’s senior figures lost their races, including the U.K.’s Jewish defense secretary, Grant Shapps, who took the post less than a year ago, and former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who held the post briefly in 2022. The incumbent Conservative prime minister, Rishi Sunak, conceded the race.

Starmer took the helm of Labour following its electoral defeat in 2019 under Jeremy Corbyn, a staunchly left-wing leader and harsh critic of Israel. Under Corbyn’s leadership, he and the party faced repeated allegations of antisemitism, and lost Jewish supporters in droves.

Starmer, whose wife, Victoria, is Jewish, worked to pull the party more to the center, including by making a concerted effort to root out antisemitism. Labour blocked Corbyn from running with the party and implemented the recommendations of a government commission investigating antisemitism in its ranks. Corbyn ran and won as an independent in his constituency this year.

“I’ve changed the Labour Party,” Starmer wrote on X earlier on Thursday. “If you put your trust in me by voting Labour, I will change the country.”

A poll of British Jews found that they were expected to vote for Labour in slightly higher numbers than the overall electorate. A Labour candidate won in the heavily Jewish London constituency of Finchley and Golders Green.

Israel came up during the campaign, as pro-Palestinian Labourites protested Starmer’s support for Israel. And in the final days of the campaign, the Conservatives attacked Starmer for signing off work at 6 p.m. on Friday for dinner with his family. The attack drew backlash from Jewish commentators, as Starmer has said for years that the family welcomes Shabbat together.

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