Keir Starmer attacks Boris Johnson over history of lies to show why he’s a better candidate for PM

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech during the party's online conference

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech during the party's online conference from the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Keir Starmer has attacked Boris Johnson’s track-record of ‘incompetence’ and ‘bendy banana’ myth-making during his first party conference speech as Labour leader.

Starmer gave a scathing assessment of the prime minister’s handling of the pandemic and of his Brexit “bluster” as he attempted to draw a line under Jeremy Corbyn’s time at the top of the party.

He criticised the prime minister’s “serial incompetence” during the coronavirus crisis, hitting out at failures on testing and getting children back to school in June as well as the exams fiasco.

And he contrasted his own career as a lawyer with Johnson’s as a journalist, during which he was sacked from The Times for making up a quote and derided by critics as a sensationalist Eurosceptic.

Sir Keir said the prime minister is “just not serious” and “just not up to the job” as he set out what he sees as the “big difference” between them both.


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“While Boris Johnson was writing flippant columns about bendy bananas, I was defending victims and prosecuting terrorists,” the Labour leader added in the speech from Doncaster.

“While he was being sacked by a newspaper for making up quotes, I was fighting for justice and the rule of law.”

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Johnson, who would eventually lead the UK out of the EU, was accused during his time as a newspaper correspondent in Brussels of myth-making as he warned about supposed plans to ban bendy bananas or prawn cocktail crisps.

And the prime minister has come under intense cross-party criticism for threatening to break international law by overriding his own Brexit divorce deal.

In contrast, Sir Keir highlighted his own work as director of public prosecutions, during which he brought a successful prosecution against two men who murdered Stephen Lawrence.

Johnson recently provoked ire from Sir Keir for accusing him of having “supported an IRA-condoning politician” by serving under Corbyn, who condemned terrorist bombings but has supported Irish republicanism.

Sir Keir asked the prime minister to withdraw his remarks, citing his record of working with the security forces and with the police in Northern Ireland to prosecute terrorists.

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