Keir Starmer says Boris is 'just not up to the job'

Keir Starmer says Boris is ‘just not up to the job’ in brutal personal attack over Covid ‘incompetence’ – as he admits Labour DESERVED to lose last election in broadside at Corbyn

  • Sir Keir Starmer slammed Boris Johnson as ‘not up for the job’ and ‘not serious’
  • The Labour leader said Government had ‘lost control’ of the coronavirus crisis
  • On Brexit, Sir Keir attempted to draw a line under the Leave/Remain battles

Sir Keir Starmer has slammed Boris Johnson as ‘not up for the job’ and blasted the Government’s ‘incompetence’ over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At a speech in Doncaster this morning the Labour leader said the party is ‘under new leadership’, in a clear sign he was breaking from the Jeremy Corbyn era, and vowed the party will ‘never again’ go into an election not being trusted by the public. 

Sir Keir was scathing about the Government’s chaotic handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying they have ‘lost control’ and the testing system has ‘collapsed just when we needed it most’.

The former lawyer reserved some of his most biting criticism for the Prime Minister’s ‘serial incompetence’ over Covid-19 and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. 

He told Labour’s virtual conference: ‘I’ve tried to be fair, to give the government the benefit of the doubt. 

Sir Keir was scathing about the Government’s chaotic handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying they have ‘lost control’ and the testing system has ‘collapsed just when we needed it most’

Sir Keir Starmer on Boris Johnson

The Labour leader lashed out at the Prime Minister this morning, condemning his ‘serial incompetence’ over Brexit negotiations and the handling of coronavirus pandemic.

He said the PM is ‘just not serious’ and ‘not up to the job.’ 

Sir Keir added that ‘just when the country needs leadership, we get serial incompetence’ 

The former lawyer then sought to contrast his career to date with Mr Johnson’s. 

He told Labour’s virtual conference: ‘While Boris Johnson was writing flippant columns about bendy bananas, I was defending victims and prosecuting terrorists.

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

‘But now, with one of the highest death rates in the world, and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions anywhere, I’m afraid there is no doubt. This government’s incompetence is holding Britain back. 

‘They couldn’t get kids back into school in June. They couldn’t work out a fair system to get exams marked. They couldn’t get protective equipment to care workers and they wasted millions of your money in the process. 

‘Their failure to protect care homes is a national scandal. They still can’t organise a testing regime that’s even serviceable, let alone world-beating.’

Sir Keir said the party would support ‘reasonable steps’ to save lives and protect the NHS.

But he added: ‘There should be nothing inevitable about a second lockdown.

‘It would be a sign of Government failure, not an act of God.

‘It would take an immense toll on people’s physical and mental health and on the economy.

‘We need a national effort to prevent a national lockdown.’

Sir Keir lashed out at the Prime Minister claiming he was ‘just not serious’ and ‘he’s not up to the job.’

In an attempt to contrast his approach with that of Mr Johnson’s, the former director of public prosecutions, said: ‘While Boris Johnson was writing flippant columns about bendy bananas, I was defending victims and prosecuting terrorists.

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

 Labour Party leader Keir Starmer arriving to give his keynote speech at the virtual Labour conference alongside MP Jenny Chapman and Ros Jones, the Mayor of Doncaster, today

On Brexit, one of the key factors in Labour’s defeat, Sir Keir attempted to draw a line under the Leave/Remain battles.

Sir Keir Starmer on Brexit

The former director of public prosecutions criticised Mr Johnson’s handling of the Brexit negotiations and sought to end the clash between Leavers and Remainers.

He told the virtual conference: ‘The grown-up way to deal with Brexit is to negotiate properly and get a deal.

‘And on Brexit, let me be absolutely clear. The debate between Leave and Remain is over.

‘We’re not going to be a party that keeps banging on about Europe. The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised that he will get a deal.

‘So go on and get one.

‘British business needs a deal. Working people need a deal. Our country needs a deal.

‘And if the Prime Minister fails to get one, he will be failing Britain. If that happens, he’ll have nobody to blame but himself. And he will have to own that failure. It will be on him.

‘We want to get this deal done, and like everybody else, we’re growing tired of the Prime Minister’s bluster.’

But he insisted the Prime Minister had to get a deal with Brussels to protect businesses and working people.

‘If the Prime Minister fails to get one, he will be failing Britain. If that happens, he’ll have nobody to blame but himself.

‘And he will have to own that failure. It will be on him.’

Despite his attacks on the Government, Sir Keir said Labour also had to be ‘brutally honest’ in its examination of its own failures.

‘When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to,’ he said.

‘You don’t look at the electorate and ask them: ‘What were you thinking?’ You look at yourself and ask: ‘What were we doing?’

‘The Labour Party has lost four general elections in a row. We’ve granted the Tories a decade of power.

‘The Tories have had as many election winners in five years as we’ve had in 75.’

It was now time to get ‘serious about winning’, Sir Keir, said as he gave himself the job of emulating Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair.

The party’s next election manifesto ‘will be rooted in Labour values’, but ‘it won’t sound like anything you’ve heard before’.

He said Labour could only win back trust by providing ‘security and opportunity at work’ and ending ‘structural flaws in our economy’ that meant people had barely had a pay rise for a decade.

The party would fix the housing crisis, he said, and understand the need for an economy that tackles climate change.

Winning the next election would mean being a party that ‘guarantees the security and integrity of this nation’.

Labour would give ‘young people the start in life they deserve’ and ‘older people the dignity that they’ve earned’.

Sir Keir Starmer said that Mr Johnson was ‘just not serious and ‘he’s not up to the job.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrives with Ruth Smeeth, to deliver his keynote speech during the party’s online conference from the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster

He called on the Prime Minister to end a ‘decade of drift’ by coming up with a plan to fix social care.

Sir Keir also called on Boris Johnson to bring forward a national strategy enforced by an independent body ‘to close the education gap’ as he pressured the Prime Minister over the exams fiasco and delays in getting children back to school during the pandemic.

Sir Keir Starmer on Covid-19

Large sections of the Labour leader’s speech this morning were reserved for attacking the Government over its response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With one of the highest death rates in the world and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions, he said, there was no doubt that ‘the Government’s incompetence is holding us back’.

‘They couldn’t get kids back into school in June. They couldn’t work out a fair system to get exams marked,’ he said.

‘They couldn’t get protective equipment to care workers and they wasted millions of your money in the process.

‘Their failure to protect care homes is a national scandal. They still can’t organise a testing regime that’s even serviceable, let alone world-beating.’

The Labour leader acknowledged the party faced a difficult path back to power.

‘Trust takes time,’ he said. ‘It starts with being a credible Opposition. With taking the job seriously. That’s what we will do.

‘So to those people in Doncaster and Deeside, in Glasgow and Grimsby, in Stoke and in Stevenage, to those who have turned away from Labour, I say this: We hear you.

‘Never again will Labour take you or the things you care about for granted. And I ask you: Take another look at Labour.’

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed Labour leader Sir Keir’s commitment to invest in education and tackling the climate crisis.

Director general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: ‘The Labour leader is right to prioritise investment in education and skills to manage the impact on the labour market and deliver high-quality jobs for the future.

‘The emphasis on efforts to tackle climate change is also welcome and something business is wholly committed to. 

‘From a sustained energy efficiency drive to delivering next generation low carbon transport, a green recovery offers huge economic opportunities across all parts of the UK.

‘The past six months have shown what is possible with brilliant collaboration between the public and private sectors, and firms will be looking for Labour to set out how it will work with business on these shared challenges in the months ahead.’

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress tweeted that it was a ‘great speech’.

Sir Keir Starmer on Jeremy Corbyn

Sir Keir didn’t mention Mr Corbyn by repeatedly asserted the party is ‘under new leadership’ and said Labour will ‘never again’ go into an election not being trusted by the public.

He said: ‘Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves.

‘When you lose an election in a democracy, you deserve to.

‘You don’t look at the electorate and ask them: ‘what were you thinking?’ You look at yourself and ask: ‘what were we doing?’

‘The Labour Party has lost four general elections in a row. We’ve granted the Tories a decade of power.

‘The Tories have had as many election winners in five years as we’ve had in seventy-five.

‘It’s a betrayal of what we believe in to let this go on. It’s time to get serious about winning.

‘That means we have to change, and that’s what we’re doing.

‘This is a party under new leadership.’

She said: ‘Keir proves he’s in touch with what working families want – a chance to get on in life, a decent job and a guarantee that hard work pays. #LabourConnected.’

It comes as Mr Johnson has been forced to abandon his drive to get Britons back to the workplace as he prepares to announce new restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be ordered to close by 10pm each night from Thursday, a move which has angered a hospitality industry already battered by the pandemic.

The Prime Minister will face MPs, including Tories who are uneasy about the way the Government has imposed restrictions, before an address to the nation on Tuesday evening.

He will outline other measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, which will also restrict the hospitality sector to table service only.

Mr Johnson will emphasise the need for people to follow social-distancing guidance, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove accepted that the Government’s call for people to return to the workplace, a measure seen as critical for the survival of cafes and other businesses which rely on commuters and office workers, had been dropped.

He said there was a ‘shift in emphasis’, telling Sky News: ‘If it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so.’

According to The Daily Telegraph, other potential measures being considered include a further delay to trials of spectators returning to professional sport events and the closure of indoor concert venues.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, describing the new restrictions as ‘another crushing blow’ for many businesses.

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