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Sir Keir Starmer speaks at the Labour Party Conference in October 2023 while standing at a podium that says, 'Britain's Future'

7 facts about Sir Keir Starmer

The United Kingdom has a new Prime Minister – Sir Keir Starmer. Read on to discover seven facts about his life and career.

Image: Sir Keir Starmer speaks at the Labour Party Conference in October 2023 | Martin Suker /

On 5th July 2024, Sir Keir Starmer became the 58th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, taking over from the incumbent Rishi Sunak. After becoming Leader of the Opposition in April 2020, Keir Starmer is the first Labour Prime Minister since Gordon Brown in 2010.

After 14 years of successive Conservative governments, Keir Starmer hopes to utilise his political experience to address the concerns of millions of voters in the country.

To help you prepare for the next chapter of British politics, here are seven facts you might not know about the new Prime Minister.

1. He is reportedly named after the first Labour leader

Sir Keir was born to Labour-supporting parents in Southwark on 2nd September 1962. It is widely reported that he was named after the founder and first leader of the Labour Party, James Keir Hardie, who led the party from 1906 to 1908. His namesake highlights the strong political influence present in his family from an early age.

Growing up in Oxted, Surrey, Sir Keir was the second of four children. His father, Rodney Starmer, worked as a toolmaker in a factory, while his mother, Josephine Baker, was a nurse. His mother suffered from a rare illness known as Still’s disease.

2. He was a talented musician in his early years

Sign on the side of the building at the 'Guildhall School of Music and Drama'
Image: Ben Gingell /

Growing up, Sir Keir played four instruments: the flute, the recorder, the piano and the violin. As a result of hours of dedicated practice, he gained a place on the Guildhall School’s junior programme as a teenager.

The new Prime Minister also played music at school, revealing in a 2021 interview that he learned violin alongside DJ and record producer, Fatboy Slim.

Whilst no longer having the time to dedicate to playing instruments, Sir Keir Starmer still enjoys listening to classical music. Mozart is his favourite composer.

3. He was caught illegally selling ice cream in the French Riviera as a teenager

Starmer has built a political reputation as a strait-laced lawyer. However, a friend has revealed they had a brush with police for selling ice cream illegally as teenagers during a visit to the French Riviera.

John Murray, a university friend of Starmer, explained that the pair had travelled to the south of France after seeing an advertisement which claimed they could earn hundreds of pounds selling ice creams.

Murray said the friends made little money and found to their cost that the practice was illegal. But although Murray was arrested, Starmer got away with just having his ice creams confiscated. Murray described the incident as a ‘minor misdemeanour’.

4. He took on McDonald’s in a high-profile libel case

Before he began his political career, Sir Keir Starmer developed a reputation as an exceptional barrister, primarily working on human rights issues.

In the 1990s, he was involved in the landmark ‘McLibel’ case – an infamous trial between McDonald’s and the two environmental activists, Helen Steel and David Morris.

The battle revolved around a pamphlet, distributed by the pair, entitled ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s?: Everything They Don’t Want You to Know’, containing a range of damaging allegations against the company, including claims about exploitation of workers, contributions to deforestation, promotion of unhealthy eating habits and disregard for animal welfare.

The activists had been forced to represent themselves in court after being denied legal aid, but they weren’t without help. It was Keir Starmer who stepped in and supplied them with free legal assistance. 

The protracted legal case lasted for nearly 10 years, and the final verdict was mixed. McDonald’s was found to have committed some of the actions alleged in the leaflet, but the pair had also made libellous allegations. Steel and Morris were ordered to pay £40,000 in damages. They refused and McDonald’s never pursued the payment. 

5. He was previously a vegetarian for 30 years

In a 2020 interview with Sky News, Sir Keir Starmer spoke of his vegetarianism, saying that he had given up eating meat for health and environmental reasons.

‘I gave up as a matter of principle years ago on the basis that eating meat wasn't the right thing for the body and the planet but I have to say, I miss meat.’ When asked what he missed, he added: ‘Bacon sandwiches, chicken curry, you name it, almost everything.’

More recently, however, during an appearance on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, he confirmed that he had recently resumed eating fish, making him a pescatarian. His wife, Victoria, remains a vegetarian.

6. He was first elected as an MP in the 2015 general election

Sir Keir Starmer gestures while talking in the House of Commons
Image: Tennessee Witney /

Sir Keir Starmer's ascent to the position of Labour leader and Prime Minister has been remarkably swift, especially compared to some of his predecessors.

Starmer only became a Member of Parliament as recently as 2015, when he was elected to represent the constituency of Holborn and St Pancras with a majority of 17,048. He was encouraged to run for Labour leader shortly after becoming an MP but declined, citing his lack of political experience.

However, his rapid rise through the political ranks contrasts with the long parliamentary careers that several previous Prime Ministers have experienced before assuming the highest office in the land.

7. He is an avid football fan

Starmer is a keen football fan, having previously played at an amateur level for a north London team called the Homerton Academicals. As a player, he has been variously described as a ‘midfield general’ with a silky left foot. In addition, he also proudly supports the Premier League side Arsenal.