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Former Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer was elected as the new Labour Party leader at the start of last month, and immediately vowed to reunite a party torn apart by infighting, allegations of anti-Semitisim and a baffling Brexit position. Labour sank to new lows after a humiliated Jeremy Corbyn led the party to its worst general election result in recent history last December, handing Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party an 80-seat majority to push the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal through parliament.
The party also lost several constituency heartlands, particularly in the north of England, that it had held and relied on for several decades, as voters began to turn against the opposition in their droves.
Mr Corbyn Subsequently stepped down as leader and was replaced by Sir Keir six weeks ago, but he is already faced with the uphill task of eliminating the bitter rows that contributed to Labour’s downfall.
John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, warned although British voters might favour Sir Keir a lot more than his predecessor, he can’t rely on riding that wave for too long.
He told Express.co.uk: “Starmer is no doubt more popular than the previous leader. As it stands, this is almost entirely because he is not Jeremy Corbyn.
“This might save Labour from immediate oblivion, but there is only so long he can bank on not being the country’s most disliked leader since records began.
Mr Macdonald was speaking before a shock new poll revealed Sir Keir is already more popular than Mr Johnson among British voters.
The YouGov survey, which quizzed 1,674 UK adults from May 9 to May 10, showed the Labour leader has a net approval rating of +23, while Mr Johnson has seen his net approval rating fall to +22.
When asked how they thought Sir Keir was performing as leader of the Labour Party, 40 per cent said “very well” or “fairly well”, while 17 per cent said “very badly” or “fairly badly”.
In contrast, the Prime Minister divides opinion more strongly, and while 57 percent think he is doing “very well” or “fairly well”, more than a third (35 percent) think he is doing “very badly” or “fairly badly”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk shortly after Sir Keir was elected Labour leader, Mr Macdonald said Sir Keir must abandon “Corbyn’s failed class politics” and win over thousands of businesses by “embracing private sector growth”.
But he warned that with Mr Corbyn leaving Labour in “tatters”, the new leader of the opposition would have to display “yet unseen Herculean resolve” to challenge the Consrvatives.
Mr Macdonald said: “Corbyn has left Labour in tatters. The bar has been set so low that even the Tories breathed a sigh of relief to see a relatively competent debut from Keir Starmer at PMQs.
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“It is now more important than ever that Labour abandons Corbyn’s failed class politics.
“They must again become comfortable with entrepreneurship, innovation and be supportive of our job-creators.
“The best way to support workers, after all, is to ensure they have access to good, well-paying jobs. That means embracing private sector growth.
“Even if he succeeds in this, Labour will need to win 122 seats to form a majority Government, a feat they have not achieved since Tony Blair.
“It will take, as yet unseen Herculean resolve in opposing the Tories.
“Until Starmer can resuscitate some form of coherent party message and effective opposition, the Tories have little to fear from Her Majesty’s opposition.”
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