Keir Starmer: 'Something about faith becomes more important to people'

Rabbi Shlomo Levin with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a virtual event for South Hampstead Synagogue

Rabbi Shlomo Levin with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a virtual event for South Hampstead Synagogue - Credit: Rebecca Filer

Sir Keir Starmer has praised the role of faith communities in the pandemic effort and said it was "incredibly positive" that different faiths in Camden come together to tackle problems.

The Labour leader and Holborn and St Pancras MP joined South Hampstead Synagogue for an online Q&A on Sunday, February 21.

Speaking with Rabbi Shlomo Levin, he said he was struck by the number of people turning to faith during the past year.

Mr Starmer said: “When people are deeply anxious, they really don't know what the future holds but something central about faith becomes more important to people.

“There’s something raw – core stuff about us that comes out in a time like this.”

Rabbi Shlomo jokingly reminded Sir Keir he’d previously called himself a non-believer. 

He added: “So in praising faith groups, you're having your cake and eating it too.”

The Rabbi also praised the work of Camden Council in both containing the virus and rolling out the vaccine, and said it has been “consistently better” than many of the other boroughs in London. 

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He said: “I want to say just how grateful and proud we are of the work that's been done in Camden, under the leadership of [council leader] Georgia Gould.”

Mr Starmer added: “The pandemic shows why having good leadership really counts.

“I’m very proud of what Camden has done. They know how to communicate with their communities because they do it all the time.”

More than 30,000 Camden residents have received the vaccine so far.

When pressed on why the MP was prepared to serve in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet and campaign for him to be prime minister, Sir Keir said he had called out antisemitism both inside and outside the shadow cabinet. 

He added: “I took the decision, which I thought was the right decision, to stay in and to fight.”

Following, his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report into antisemitism in the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn's membership of the party was suspended in October. Although the suspension has been lifted, Mr Starmer has not yet reinstated the whip.