April 4 (UPI) -- Keir Starmer has won the contest to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Britain's new leader of the Labour Party, pledging "a new era."
Starmer, a 57-year-old lawyer who became a Parliament member in 2015, vowed to lead the party "into a new era with confidence and hope," the BBC reported.
He won the election in the first round of voting with more than half the vote out of 490,000 votes cast, defeating Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy.
Corbyn decided to step down after the Labur Party lost last year's general election.
Starmer has been given credit for influencing Corbyn's softened stance on Brexit before the 2019 election, and is expected to move the party back to the center after Corbyn had pulled it to the left, Politico reported.
Long-Bailey, the pro-Corbyn candidate, came in second at 27.6 percent of the vote and Nandy got 16.2 percent.
Starmer apologized for the "stain" of anti-Semitism upon the Labour Party in recent years and pledged to "tear out this poison by its roots," saying the return of Jewish former members to the party would measure his success.
"It is the honor and the privilege of my life to be elected as the leader of the Labour Party," Starmer said in his acceptance speech, noting that his tenure would be defined by the coronavirus.
"Public life has all but come to a standstill and we are missing each other," Starmer said.
Starmer's first task as Labour Party leader will be leading response to the coronavirus. He plans to talk next week with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and top scientists on how they could "work together" to address the crisis.
Starmer resigned from his role as shadow minister of state for immigration in 2016 in protest of Corbyn's leadership amid challenges brought about by the referendum on Britain's departure the European Union. After Corbyn won a second term as Labour Party leader, Starmer received a Brexit spokesman job.
Prior to joining Parliament, Starmer was a human rights lawyer before becoming director of public prosecutions and head of the crown prosecution service.