‘Sir’ Keir Starmer vs. ‘Mr. Nobody’ Rishi Sunak: Meet UK’s Next Likely Prime Minister

LONDON − First of all, he’s a “Sir,” a knight. It’s Sir Keir Starmer to you and me.

Starmer is the leader of the British opposition Labour Party. And if the polls are accurate, he also appears destined to be the country’s next prime minister, now that the current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak − who Starmer once labeled a “Mr. Nobody” who “simply doesn’t get Britain” − called a surprise election.

The election takes place on July 4.

The vote will arrive after more than a decade of center-right Conservative Party rule in Britain. This period witnessed a deep global financial crisis, Britain’s exit from the European Union, the COVID-19 pandemic, an immigration surge, and high inflation and low economic growth that has made many in the country feel poorer.

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Starmer’s Vision for the UK

Starmer, 61, has promised to “end the chaos” and bring stability with a center-left Labour government that prioritizes the party’s roots in support for more generous and fit-for-purpose state welfare policies. He has pledged to nationalize some infrastructure, such as train lines and at least one energy firm. He says he will crack down on wealthy tax evaders, recruit more teachers, and bring down waiting lists at Britain’s public hospitals.

Britain’s Electoral System

In the UK, voters elect a party rather than a specific leader. Starmer has led the Labour Party since 2020 after his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn stepped down following poor election results and allegations of antisemitism within the party. Because foreign policy in Britain is generally viewed as a bipartisan issue, Starmer is unlikely to make major changes to Britain’s stance on key international issues, from the war in Ukraine to dealing with a rising China. The storied U.S.-British “special relationship” will also remain unchanged.

Keir Starmer: ‘Lefty London Lawyer’ with a Methodical Approach

Starmer is known for his methodical approach, professionalism, and detailed grasp of policy. However, he is often described as a bit dull and colorless, with a flat, nasal vocal delivery. His speeches frequently feature “five-point plans,” resembling PowerPoint presentations.

Opponents caricature him as a boring “lefty London lawyer.”

Starmer’s Background

Starmer was knighted in 2014 for his work as a prosecutor. Before entering politics, he was a human rights lawyer who worked on high-profile cases in Britain, including the racially motivated murder of a Black teenager in 1993. Starmer played a significant role in bringing the killers to justice.

“He came to the bar to represent tenants, rather than landlords,” Britain’s former chief public prosecutor Ken McDonald said in a podcast interview last year about Starmer called “The Real Keir Starmer.”

Born in London, Starmer often says he had a typical lower-middle-class upbringing. His father made tools and his mother was a nurse who developed a rare autoimmune condition when Starmer was 11, requiring her limbs to be amputated. “She could barely walk for most of her life,” Starmer has said.

He is married with two teenage children and studied law at the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford. He is also a fan of Arsenal, a Premier League soccer team whose recent rise to prominence mirrors Starmer’s own ascension.

Keir Starmer’s Big Advantage: He’s Not Rishi Sunak

In many ways, Starmer is a study in contrasts with Sunak, a former investment banker and U.K. Treasury chief, whose billionaire wife Akshata Murty − heir to an Indian tech fortune − has described her husband as “fun, thoughtful, compassionate, and with an incredible zest for life.” In public appearances, however, Sunak often comes across as a technocrat with a tin ear, struggling to connect with ordinary voters.

When Starmer labeled Sunak “Mr Nobody” in Parliament, he criticized Sunak for flip-flopping on campaign pledges and plans, making it hard to understand what the prime minister truly stands for. As the election approaches, Starmer himself has made some policy U-turns, such as abandoning a $35 billion green investment plan from 2021.

After the Corbyn years, Starmer has moved his party to the center, alienating some supporters. Under his leadership, the party has dropped its more overtly “socialist” policies and apologized for the antisemitism that surfaced during Corbyn’s tenure.

“Change is both Starmer’s opportunity and his burden,” wrote columnist Simon Jenkins in an opinion piece for The Guardian. “His slogan is starkly negative. It is to be not Sunak.”


As the UK approaches the July 4 election, Sir Keir Starmer stands poised to become the next prime minister. His promise to bring stability and end the chaos of the past decade resonates with many voters. Whether his methodical approach and centrist policies will succeed in swaying the electorate remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the contrast between Starmer and Sunak will be a defining feature of this pivotal election.

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