Sir Keir Starmer QC has won the support of more than half the Labour Party’s lawyers in Parliament as he bids to become the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.
The former Director of Public Prosecutions has secured nominations from 12 of the 23 Labour MPs who are also qualified lawyers, four times as many as any other candidate.
The other two lawyers in the leadership race to replace Jeremy Corbyn – solicitor Rebecca Long-Bailey and barrister Emily Thornberry – have both secured three nominations from their peers, including their nomination of themselves.
The final two candidates are Jess Phillips and Lisa Nandy. The former has won the backing of two lawyers; the latter just one.
There is also one lawyer standing for deputy leader, Richard Burgon. Three Labour lawyers have nominated him for the role, but more have endorsed rival Angela Rayner. Burgon himself has nominated Long-Bailey for leader.
Who Labour’s lawyer MPs have nominated
Starmer was co-head of Doughty Street Chambers, before acting as Director of Public Prosecutions and the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2008 to 2013. He was elected to Parliament for the first time in the General Election of 2015, winning the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras, which was formerly held by veteran Parliamentarian Frank Dobson. At that time Labour party activists began a grassroots campaign to persuade the then-newly-elected MP to stand for the leadership after Ed Miliband stepped down, setting up a Facebook page and planning a ‘Twitterstorm’ with the hashtag #keirforleader. He declined to stand on that occasion.
Long-Bailey is a solicitor who worked for Pinsent Masons, Halliwells and Hill Dickinson before becoming an MP. She is seen as the preferred candidate of Momentum, the wing of the party that favoured Jeremy Corbyn.
Thornberry was a human rights barrister at Tooks Chambers from 1985 to 2005. She has served in the Shadow Cabinet since 2011 and is currently Shadow First Secretary of State.
Candidates must be nominated by at least 10 per cent of the combined membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party to stand. All five remaining candidates have now passed that hurdle: Starmer has 89 nominations of a potential 212 overall, Long-Bailey 33, Nandy 31, and Phillips and Thornberry 23 each.
They now need the nominations of at least 5 per of Constituency Labour Parties, or at least three party affiliates that consist of at least 5 per cent of affiliate members including at least two trade unions.
Voting in the membership ballot then takes place between 21 February and 2 April, with the winner announced on 4 April.