Why is Keir Starmer a sir? Reason Labour Party leader was knighted explained - and when he got knighthood

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Keir Starmer had a career in law before he became an MP

Keir Starmer will be one of the guests on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg at the end of another explosive week in British politics.

Sir Keir, who has been the Labour Party leader since April 2020,  has also called on the entire Tory government to be outed, not just former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Following the resignation of Liz Truss, he has demanded a general election.

But, why is Keir Starmer a sir?

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It’s somewhat unusual for a Labour leader to have the title of Sir, so here’s everything you need to know about why Sir Keir was given it.

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party.Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party.
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party. | Getty Images

Why is Keir Starmer a Sir?

Before he was a politician, Sir Keir was a human rights defence lawyer, becoming Queen’s Counsel and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers in 2002.

He also served as a human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

In 2008, Sir Keir was named the new Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions.

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This role traditionally comes with a knighthood and was what led to Sir Keir receiving his title.

The position is an appointment that lasts for five years and plays a vital role in deciding which prosecutions are pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Sir Keir officially received his knighthood for "services to law and criminal justice" in 2014.

The now Labour leader has been reluctant to use the title, however, even before entering politics.

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Not only does the title not seem to sit well with other Labour Party members and voters, but Sir Keir himself has said in interviews that he doesn’t like formal titles.

What is a knighthood?

There are various levels of Honours that can be awarded to people by the British monarch to reward them for services to the country.

A knighthood or a damehood is known as a GBE, which stands for Grand Cross of the British Empire.

Knighthoods are given to men, while damehoods are given to women.

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The other Honours include CBE, or Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, OBE, or Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and MBE, or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Who is Keir Starmer?

Keir Starmer has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015.

He took over in the role as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from  Jeremy Corbyn in 2020.

Starmer, aged 59,  was born in London and raised in Surrey.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Leeds in 1985 and gained a postgraduate Bachelor of Civil Law degree at St Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford in 1986.

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After qualifying for the bar, Starmer acted exclusively as a defence lawyer, specialising in human rights issues as a member of Doughty Street Chambers.

He was named a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2002. In 2008, he became Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), holding both of these roles until 2013.

At the conclusion of his five-year term as Director of Public Prosecutions, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours.

After being elected to the House of Commons in the 2015 general election, Starmer became Shadow Minister for Immigration later the same year before being appointed to the Shadow Cabinet in October 2016 as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union after Britain voted for Brexit.

He was elected to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in April 2020.

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