The UK's opposition Labour Party has elected veteran left-wing MP Jeremy Corbyn to be its new leader, in one of the most controversial leadership votes in recent British political history.

The announcement of Corbyn's success brings to a close a bitterly fought contest, which could herald the start of renewed divisions within the party between those in support of his anti-austerity platform, and those advocating a further shift away from the left.

Corbyn won the vote in the first round, picking up 251,417 or 59.5 percent of votes cast.

In a speech delivered after the announcement of his victory, Corbyn said his first act as leader of the party would be to attend a protest demanding better treatment of refugees.

"They are the generational victims of war, who end up in desperation, end up in terrible places, end up trying to get to a place of safety... They are human beings just like you, just like me," Corbyn said.

"Let's deal with the refugee crisis with humanity, with support, with help, with compassion... We cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global inequality."


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Corbyn said he would take the ruling Conservative Party to task for its cuts to welfare payments and public services, which he blamed for rising poverty in the UK.

"The Tories [Conservatives] have used the economic crisis of 2008 to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people in this country ... it's not right, it's not necessary and it's got to change," Corbyn said.

The MP for the London constituency of Islington North, also thanked a number of trade unions for their backing during his leadership campaign.

Corbyn's support base derived largely from left-leaning members, and from new members who joined the party after its crushing election defeat in May.

Labour's new leader also slammed coverage of his campaign by the British press, many sections of which have cast him as economically dangerous.

Andy Burnham, Corbyn's nearest competitor, received 19 percent of the ballots cast. MP Tom Watson was elected Corbyn's deputy.

Source: Al Jazeera