Boris Johnson was reportedly left ‘furious’ about Keir Starmer at last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) and has called on his party to step up the attacks on the leader of the opposition.
The Observer reports a well-placed source claiming that Johnson had been angered by Starmer’s call for the prime minister to withdraw his remarks about the IRA, a request that was backed by speaker Lindsay Hoyle.
Johnson was said to have taken the anger out on his staff, blaming them for leaving him under-prepared, and wanting them to do more to help increase his attacks on his Labour counterpart.
‘He was furious,’ a source told the newspaper. ‘He told his team and people at CCHQ [Conservative campaign headquarters] that he wanted them to go after Starmer’s legal record and double down on the attacks on him.’
Johnson had attempted to draw comparisons between Starmer and Corbyn, who he claimed was a sympathiser of the IRA.
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But at the despatch box Starmer told the Commons: ‘I wanted to take him back… I worked in Northern Ireland for five years bringing peace, I prosecuted as the director of public prosecutions serious terrorists for five years, working with intelligence and security forces and working with the police in Northern Ireland.’
After the PM failed to take back his remarks, Starmer told MPs: ‘I asked him to do the decent thing, but doing the decent thing with this prime minister don’t go together’.
Downing Street said it was ‘not true’ that Johnson had blamed his staff for his PMQs performance, but the alleged anger comes as Tory MPs anonymously briefed journalists on their frustrations with the prime minister.
A Labour source said that attacking their leader would fall flat, given Johnson’s personal CV.
They said: ‘If Boris Johnson wants to have a debate with Keir about past careers then bring it on. While Keir was a human rights lawyer or director of public prosecutions Johnson was being sacked for lying.’