10 Facts About Keir Starmer, the New UK Prime Minister

Keir Starmer is set to become the new Prime Minister of Britain, giving rise to a significant change in the country’s political landscape.

This win marks the end of 14 years of Conservative rule, with the opposing Labour Party securing a massive majority by winning 412 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. Former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conceded early on the morning of the election results.

But who exactly is Keir Starmer, and what has led to his rise to this prestigious position?

Here are ten fascinating facts about Keir Starmer that you may not have known about! 

His Humble Beginnings

Keir Starmer grew up in Surrey, a posh suburb in southern England, but his family was working-class. His father, Rodney Starmer, was a toolmaker, and his mother, Josephine Baker, worked for the National Health Service (NHS).

His parents supported the Labour Party and are said to have named him after the party’s first parliamentary leader, Keir Hardie (However, in 2015, Starmer mentioned that he wasn’t sure if this was true).

As a teenager, Starmer was involved in Labour politics, joining the Labour Party Young Socialists at 16. 

Starmer went on to study law at the University of Leeds, graduating with first-class honours and becoming the first in his family to graduate. He then completed postgraduate studies at Oxford, earning a Bachelor of Civil Law degree.

He was an Accomplished Human Rights Lawyer

Before entering politics, Keir Starmer had a distinguished career as a human rights lawyer and public prosecutor. He also served as the Director of Public Prosecutions from 2008 to 2013.

In 2011, he introduced reforms, like the first test of paperless hearings. He also handled major cases, such as the Stephen Lawrence murder case.

In 2010, Starmer announced the prosecution of three Labour MPs and a Conservative peer for false accounting during the parliamentary expenses scandal. All were found guilty. During the 2011 England riots, he focused on quickly prosecuting rioters, which he later believed helped restore order.

In 2012, Starmer decided to prosecute politician Chris Huhne for perverting the course of justice, showing that the CPS wouldn’t avoid prosecuting politicians if there was enough evidence.

In 2013, during Operation Yewtree, he introduced changes to handle sexual abuse investigations better, including setting up a panel to review old complaints.

He was the Inspiration Behind a Popular Film Character?

If you’ve ever watched the Bridget Jones movies, you might be thrilled to know that the character Mark Darcy, played by Colin Firth, is rumoured to be inspired by Starmer. 

His career as a human rights lawyer, particularly during the time Helen Fielding was writing Bridget Jones’s Diary, led to amusing comparisons to Mark Darcy, Bridget’s main love interest.

Known for his serious and somewhat reserved demeanour, Starmer shares the same brooding charm as Darcy. 

Though the writer of the show Helen Fielding confirmed Keir wasn’t the inspiration, she humorously noted the similarities: “He’s so good and decent and intelligent, but so buttoned up. I always want to say: ‘Come on, Keir, loosen your tie, ruffle up your hair.’”

Friends in High Places

Starmer’s high-flying legal career also led to some interesting friendships. He is friends with Amal Clooney, who is another well-known human rights lawyer.

And get this: Amal is married to George Clooney, yes the Hollywood actor George Clooney.

Starmer once recounted a particularly boozy lunch with the couple, where they discussed various legal and social issues. It’s not every day you get legal advice with a side of Hollywood glamour, I guess?

He is a Musician at Heart

I guess we can’t be the only country with a musically adept Prime Minister.

Aside from his legal and political achievements, Starmer is also a talented musician. He plays the violin, which he learned at school from Norman Cook, who later became famous as DJ Fatboy Slim. 

He also played multiple instruments and was a junior exhibitioner at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 

Starmer even attended a prestigious music school in London during weekends. A politician and a musician? I guess he’s the kid that every Asian mother wants you to grow up to be.

He was Knighted in 2014

Despite his modest upbringing, Starmer was knighted in 2014 by the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) for his contributions to criminal justice.

His election victory marks the first time in over 60 years that a knight has become Prime Minister. The last premier with a knighthood who took office was Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963; all others since then received the honour only after their term.

Being made a Knight or a Dame is one of the highest honours in the United Kingdom, typically given to individuals who have made significant contributions in their field at a national level.

Historically, knighthoods were awarded solely for military achievements, but nowadays they also acknowledge major contributions to various aspects of national life. Recipients can include actors, scientists, school head teachers, and industrialists.

A man who receives knighthood also gets the additional flex of having people address them as “Sir” instead of “Mr”. Yet, Starmer rarely uses the title “Sir,” preferring to keep things down-to-earth.

He is a Centre-Left Politician

As the leader of the Labour Party, Starmer is known as a social liberal and fiscal moderate (In English, it means that he supports progressive social policies, think equal rights and environmental protection, while maintaining a sensible approach to government spending and the economy).

Starmer also has a track record of advocating for significant changes. Early in his career, he called for the abolition of the British monarchy – quite the bold stance in a country that loves its royals.

However, since he accepted a knighthood from the monarchy, I guess he changed his mind?

More recently, he has been vocal about social justice issues, even taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, a global movement advocating against systemic racism and violence towards black people. 

Personal Challenges and Triumphs

Starmer’s life hasn’t been without personal challenges. His mother suffered from Still’s disease, a severe form of arthritis, and passed away shortly after he was first elected to Parliament in 2015. His father passed away three years later.

Starmer has spoken about the strained relationship he had with his father, saying that not telling his father “I love you and I respect you” is “the one thing I do regret.” A reminder that even politicians have their own dramas and soap opera moments.

When Starmer took over as the leader of the Labour Party in 2020, the party had just suffered its worst defeat in decades.

His mission back then was to make Labour electable again, and with Labour winning 412 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons, it’s clear he succeeded.

His Future Plans as Prime Minister

Starmer plans to clamp down on tax avoidance, reduce NHS patient waiting times, and recruit more teachers and neighbourhood police officers.

He also aims to negotiate a better deal with the European Union post-Brexit. Brexit, if you’re unfamiliar, was the process of the UK leaving the European Union, which has had significant economic and political consequences. 

As the new Prime Minister, Starmer’s initiation into global politics will be swift.

He is set to attend a NATO summit in Washington, followed by hosting a security meeting at Blenheim Palace with 50 European leaders. 

Our own Prime Minister Lawrence Wong extended his congratulations to Starmer on his appointment.

“I extend my warmest congratulations on Labour’s strong showing at the UK general election and your appointment as prime minister,” he said in a statement, “We can work together to advance our countries’ shared interests and address common challenges.”

The UK and Singapore have shared a long-standing partnership of around 200 years.

PM Wong also said that the launch of the Singapore-UK “strategic partnership” in September 2023 aims to enhance collaboration in multiple areas like AI, digital technology, and renewable energy.

This partnership promises to create new opportunities and address common challenges.

PM Wong also wrote on Facebook, “I look forward to working with Mr Starmer and his team to strengthen our strategic partnership.”

Image: Facebook (Lawrence Wong)

With his focus on practical solutions and a return to political normalcy, Starmer’s leadership definitely marks a new chapter for the UK. As he steps into his new role, all eyes will be on how he tackles the challenges ahead and delivers on his promises to the British people.

Whether you’re a fan of British politics or just curious about the new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer’s story is one worth keeping an eye out for!

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