In a New Year speech setting out his party’s vision for the future, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has hit out at prime minister Boris Johnson, accusing the government of being “unworthy” of public trust.
Referring to recent damaging headlines around sleaze scandals, parties being held at Downing Street in 2020 while Covid restrictions were in force, and a backbench rebellion from Tory MPs against further Covid rules, Sir Keir said: “I'm afraid, at the moment, we are going backwards. We have a prime minister who thinks the rules apply to anyone but him.
“Just when trust in government has become a matter of life and death, for this prime minister it has become a matter of what he can get away with.”
Promising to deliver “straight leadership” during the address in Birmingham, Sir Keir added that his party would bring “security, prosperity and respect” if elected and accused the Conservatives of squabbling over Johnson’s leadership to the extent that it had neglected to properly lead the country forward.
He also said that the government’s “moral right” to enforce new Covid-19 restrictions if required had been compromised by the recent controversies, adding that the British public did not take well to “being taken for granted” and “being taken for fools”.
In his biggest swipe at the PM, Sir Keir accused Johnson of treating politics like “a branch of the entertainment industry” given all that had been allowed to go on under his leadership.
The speech comes after opinion polls showed a Labour lead for the first time since Boris Johnson was elected prime minister.
The shift in public opinion was also laid bare by the Conservative defeat in the North Shropshire by-election, with the former safe seat going to the Liberal Democrats.
Appealing to the public by talking up Labour’s patriotism, Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir highlighted that former leaders Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Tony Blair had all introduced reforms that were “rooted in the everyday concerns of working people.”
He also expressed optimism for the future of the UK, saying that the “best still lies ahead” for the country.
He said: “I believe that the best still lies ahead for this country. But only if we have the courage to create a new Britain. A country in which you and your family get the security, prosperity and respect you deserve.”
Discussing some of the many challenges that the nation will face in 2022, Sir Keir said that “repairing after the pandemic, combating the climate crisis; and making Brexit work” would all come as priorities.
Responding to the Labour leader's address, Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden said that Sir Keir was "out of touch" with the British people and had no plan for the future of the country.
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons