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Mayor of Tower Hamlets backs new Labour leader in pledge for strong East End voice in parliament

PUBLISHED: 17:15 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 00:43 05 April 2020

Mayor Biggs... congratulates Sir Keir Starma on his Labour leadership election win. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor Biggs... congratulates Sir Keir Starma on his Labour leadership election win. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has pledged to work to make sure the East End has “a strong voice in Parliament” amid the national Coronavirus crisis.

Sir Keir Starma... Sir Keir Starma... "When we get through this, it will be because of our NHS staff, our ambulance drivers, our emergency services." Picture: Twitter

John Biggs’ pledge was issued a statement to the East London Advertiser following today’s election of Sir Keir Starma as Labour’s new national party leader.

“Sir Keir’s ability to bring people together and unite different wings of the party was one of the reasons I supported him in the leadership election,” he revealed. “He showed during the Brexit debates that he will be a powerful voice.”

The mayor was an outspoken ‘remainer’ during last year’s Brexit issue and was firmly in Labour’s ‘remain’ wing like St Keir and had backed the idea of a second referendum before Boris Johnson won December’s general election that took the UK out of Europe.

Now the political atmosphere has changed with the Tory Prime Minister today calling for united action with Labour to get the nation through the pandemic crisis.

Both the mayor and the PM have congratulated Sir Keir on his leadership election. Mr Biggs also congratulated Angela Rayner as the new deputy leader and looked forward to “working with Keir, Angela and with our two East End MPs Rushanara Ali and Apsana Begum to make sure that Tower Hamlets has a strong voice in Parliament”.

Sir Keir, who has taken over from Jeremy Corbyn following Labour’s disaster at the general election polls, promised to work with the government in dealing with the pandemic in his acceptance speech on Twitter.

“In times like this we need good government,” Sir Keir said. “Whether we voted for this government or not, we rely on it to get this right. That’s why Labour will engage with the government, not score political points, but will test the arguments that are put forward on critical issues.”

He promised that the nation would get through the crisis and the threat would subside, but warned: “Things are going to have to change.

When we get through this, it will be because of the real key workers, our NHS staff, our ambulance drivers, our emergency services who’ve been taken for granted too long and poorly paid.”

He acknowledged that the Corbyn era had failed to tackle anti-semitism in the party rank-and-file which brought Labour into disrepute during the general election.

“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party,” he admitted. “I have seen the grief it has brought to so many Jewish communities. I am sorry. I will tear out this poison by its roots.”

But Labour had lost four elections in a row, he conceded. Now he promised it would “guide us through these difficult times”.


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