SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has called for the new Labour leader to help push for a pause in the Brexit negotiations so all efforts can be focused on coronavirus.

Sir Keir Starmer was announced yesterday as the successor to Jeremy Corbyn after winning the race by a landslide. The favourite to win beat his rivals Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy in the first round of counting, securing 56% of the 490,731 votes cast.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer wins Labour leadership election

Angela Rayner (below) won the deputy leadership race by 52.6% of the vote, with others standing including Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray, as well as Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Richard Burgon, and Dawn Butler.

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Starmer is expected to face a huge challenge in getting Labour back on track following the party’s dismal performance in the General Election last December, in which it retained just one seat in Scotland.

In an acceptance speech posted on social media, he vowed to lead Labour into a new era, saying his mission is to restore trust in the party as “a force for good and a force for change”.

He also apologised for antisemitism in Labour which has brought “grief” to Jewish communities.

His victory – which marks a significant change of direction for the party – came after the planned special conference to unveil the winner had to be shelved because of the coronavirus crisis.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford accuses PM of making it up as he goes along

The results were instead announced via social media, while the Labour Party website appeared to crash.

Following the leadership announcement, Blackford (below) issued a plea for opposition parties to work together during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I congratulate Keir Starmer on his election and look forward to meeting with him.

“At this unprecedented time, it’s vital opposition parties work together effectively to hold the UK Government to account – and ensure people get the support they need in the coronavirus crisis.”

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He said Labour’s position on Brexit had been “mired in confusion” for years, but he hoped the party would agree to work to call for a suspension in the process of leaving EU.

“It’s also clear we need to secure a pause in the Brexit negotiations and an extension to the transition period – so all resources are focused on tackling coronavirus,” he said.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard: New Labour leader Keir Starmer 'gets Scotland'

Blackford also said he “did not envy” the position Starmer finds his party in. He said: “Support for Labour has collapsed in Scotland. If they are ever to regain trust, they must stop ignoring Scotland’s wishes and respect our democratic right to choose our own future.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart tweeted that he wished Starmer “all the best” and will work with him where possible.

However he added there were two “big irreconcilables”, including the constitution, as Starmer is “implacably opposed to Scotland governing itself”.

Wishart said the other issue is Brexit, as Starmer “now accepts it and won’t seek to reverse it”.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Starmer would make an “outstanding” leader and prime minister and that he understands Scotland. He said: “He has the overwhelming support of members right across the party.

“Keir has a fine intellect but has his feet on the ground. He knows what we need to do to change this country, to come through this Covid crisis and to build a better society.

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“He gets Scotland and the urgent need for a constitutional convention to modernise Britain. I am looking forward to working closely with him.”

He added: “Angela’s election will bring a new energy and campaigning zeal to help lead the party, so I am delighted to see her win such a clear mandate.“I know that she’ll be working closely with the Scottish Labour Party to rebuild our support and party organisation.”

Murray, Scotland’s only Labour MP, said: “Keir has won a resounding victory and a mandate to rebuild our party to return us to government.

“I campaigned tirelessly with Keir to try to prevent the calamity of Brexit, and I am proud to call him a friend. He will be a great leader and the Labour movement’s job is to work together to make him the next prime minister of our country.”

On Friday, Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie was elected as deputy leader of Scottish Labour.

She won 10,311 votes to defeat her challenger Matt Kerr, who received 7528 votes.

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