Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visits Stevenage in first appearance outside London

The new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has paid a visit to Stevenage for his first public appearance outside London since lockdown.

Sir Keir, who became leader of the opposition in April, was given a tour of the town's billion pound regeneration project.

Stevenage is currently controlled by a Labour council, but has a Conservative MP in the form of Stephen McPartland.

Speaking to ITV News Anglia, Sir Keir said Labour needed to listen to voters if they are to one day claim back the seat.

"I'm very conscious of the fact that in the Labour Party, we've got a mountain to climb to get from where we were in the last election to get to where we need to be for the next election and that starts with me listening," he said.

"It's great to be in Stevenage - it's great to be out - actually seeing people, hearing from them their concerns first hand and the more leaders can hear from people first hand, the better as far as I'm concerned."

Rebecca Long-Bailey. Credit: PA

Sir Keir's visit to the Hertfordshire town was somewhat overshadowed by the news that he'd sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article containing "an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory."

Mrs Long-Bailey retweeted an interview about actor Maxine Peake, with the caption "Maxine Peake is an absolute diamond".

A spokesperson for Sir Keir said: “As leader of the Labour Party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority.

"Anti-Semitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”