Tory Minister Accuses Keir Starmer Of Making 'Political Point' Over Jimmy Savile Slur

George Eustice claims there's no link between mob attack and Boris Johnson's words, which were said "in the heat of the moment".

A Conservative minister has defended Boris Johnson’s Jimmy Savile smear of Keir Starmer – and even accused the Labour leader of using the mob abuse of him to make a “political point”.

George Eustice, the environment secretary, argued there was no link between Johnson wrongly claiming that Starmer failed to prosecute Savile when he was Director of Public Prosecutions and the incident last week.

The cabinet minister added that the slur was said “in the heat of the moment” – despite it being widely understood that the attack was premeditated, and even prompted the resignation of a key aide who had warned against making the suggestion.

Starmer and shadow justice secretary David Lammy were ambushed near parliament on Monday evening, with some protesters heard shouting about Savile and calling the Labour leader a “paedophile protector”.

Johnson has condemned the incident – but rejected calls from MPs, including many in his own party, for him to apologise.

On BBC Question Time on Thursday, Eustice described the mob as “anti-vaxx campaigners”, adding: “These were people who were against lockdown measures and against the vaccination programme that we’ve been rolling out. And if one of them mentioned Jimmy Savile, which I think is the allegation, that’s doesn’t mean that that was the reason for this particular attack.”

Host Fiona Bruce responded: ”‘Paedophile protector’ was another thing Starmer said he’s not heard before, he made the link to the comments. Is he wrong in that?”

Eustice replied: “He will obviously want to make that particular political point, I can understand that as leader of the opposition. I don’t think it’s right to make this particular connection when we’ve all condemned those scenes with Keir Starmer.”

The cabinet minister continued that Johnson’s comments came in “a highly-charged, highly emotive session and people say things in the heat of the moment.”

Welsh Assembly Labour minister Vaughan Gething could be heard saying “that’s really poor”.

Nearly seven in 10 voters blame Johnson for the mob targeting of Starmer, a poll showed this week.

The Savanta ComRes survey also found that more than two-thirds of the public believe the prime minister should apologise.

HuffPost UK reported this week that the “Trumpian”-style attack could be deployed repeatedly in the run-up to the next general election, and the Conservatives could be stockpiling stories on Starmer’s time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service.


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