Iceland boss Richard Walker has formally backed the Labour Party and its leader Sir Keir Starmer to be the next prime minister.

Richard Walker Headshots 8

Former Tory Richard Walker says Keir Starmer showed “compassion and concern for the less fortunate”

Former Conservative donor Walker, who previously sought to stand as a candidate for the Tories, quit the party last week and today wrote in The Guardian that Labour and Starmer had a “credible programme” to improve the UK economy and people’s lives.

Walker also wrote that Starmer understands the “unbearable strain” the cost-of-living crisis has placed on families.

The executive chair of Iceland said that Starmer has moved the Labour party closer to the political centre, while Rishi Sunak had taken the Conservatives further to the right and caused a “total collapse in public confidence” in the government.

He also said that he’d met Starmer and that the Labour leader showed “compassion and concern for the less fortunate,” and demonstrated an understanding of the scale of the suffering caused by the cost-of-living crisis to Iceland customers.

Starmer has “progressively moved towards the ground on which I have always stood, at the same time as the Conservatives have moved away from it,” Walker wrote.

“Indeed, the Tories’ abandonment of what I have always regarded as basic Conservative principles has fuelled my personal disenchantment”.

While Walker hasn’t said that he would join the Labour Party, and isn’t understood to be planning any donations, he said he hopes Labour would “deliver the majority they will need to begin delivering their recovery programme for the UK” at the next election.

Walker’s defection will be seen as a major boon for the Labour Party in what is almost certain to be an election year, and at a time the party has been seeking to woo business leaders.

Labour plans to hold a major business conference in central London on February 1, hosting leaders from several companies including Google, Shell, AstraZeneca, Airbus and Goldman Sachs.