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Hoping to defuse rows, Britain’s Labour elects new leader

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Labour Party will elect a new leader on Saturday, with Brexit policy chief Keir Starmer the frontrunner to take over a deeply divided party that, under veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, suffered a crushing defeat in a December election.

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer leaves the BBC headquarters after appearing on The Andrew Marr Show in London, Britain January 5, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The finale of the leadership contest, under way since Corbyn announced his resignation after the election, has been overshadowed by Britain’s growing coronavirus outbreak, all but silencing the hopefuls’ campaigns.

But for many in Labour, Saturday’s election will be a chance for the party to start afresh and move away from years of rows over everything from how to approach Britain’s departure from the European Union and accusations of anti-Semitism among members, to the party’s turn to the left under Corbyn.

It may not be easy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have occupied much of traditional Labour territory, with the coronavirus crisis prompting the ruling party to turn on the spending taps and end economic austerity.

“This election has been long – and it’s fair to say that it hasn’t ended in the way that any of us expected,” Starmer told supporters on Thursday in an email run under his slogan “another future

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