Keir Starmer Tears Into Boris Johnson Over Fuel Crisis: 'Level Up? You Can't Even Fill Up'

He outlined his key priorities as: work, care, equality and security.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images

Keir Starmer kicked off his high stakes conference speech with an attack Boris Johnson over the fuel crisis, saying: “Level up? You can’t even fill up.”

The Labour leader attempted to wrest the spotlight away from the factional infighting that has dominated his party’s annual conference in Brighton.

Starmer took aim at the government over the crisis at pumps, just hours after the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted soldiers will be deployed in days.

He said: “If you go outside and walk along the seafront, it won’t be long before you come to a petrol station that has got no fuel.

“Level up? You can’t even fill up.

“Doesn’t that just tell you everything about this government? Ignoring the problem, blaming someone else, then coming up with a half-baked solution.

“Why do we suddenly have a shortage of HGV drivers? Why is there no plan in place?”

Starmer used the speech to draw a line under the Jeremy Corbyn years and took on hecklers who shouted from the crowd.

In a thinly veiled attack on the last leadership, Starmer said the party under him would not have an election manifesto that “is not a serious plan for government”.

He said rape and serious sexual assaults would be fast-tracked under a Labour government and pledged mental health spending would not be allowed to fall.

Starmer also focused in on education, calling for digital skills in schools and reinstating compulsory work experience.

The leader was unafraid to make references to the Tony Blair years and New Labour’s record in government.

He also referenced science and research, with a “target” investment of three per cent GDP.

“On behalf of a public that cares about cleaning up politics, I put this government on notice.”

- Starmer

The MP for Holborn and St Pancras attempted to paint Johnson as a leader without a plan while pitching himself as a principled person.

He told the conference: “The one thing about Boris Johnson that offends everything I stand for is his assumption that the rules don’t apply to him.

“When Dominic Cummings took a trip to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight, Boris Johnson turned a blind eye.

“When Matt Hancock breached his own lockdown rules, Boris Johnson declared the matter closed.

“When I got pinged, I isolated. When Boris Johnson got pinged, he tried to ignore it. That’s not how I do business.”

Starmer went on to contrast his work as a lawyer with Johnson, adding: “It’s easy to comfort yourself that your opponents are bad people.

“But I don’t think Boris Johnson is a bad man. I think he is a trivial man. I think he’s a showman with nothing left to show. I think he’s a trickster who has performed his one trick.

“Once he had said the words ‘Get Brexit Done’ his plan ran out. He has no plan.”

Factional infighting has dominated the party’s annual conference in Brighton.
Factional infighting has dominated the party’s annual conference in Brighton.
Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

It comes after the annual conference was dominated by clashes between the leftwing of the party and allies of Starmer.

The Labour leader faces pressure to win back voters who ditched Labour for the Tories as well as uniting his own party.

A major flashpoint came in the middle of the conference when a member of the shadow cabinet quitting in protest at Sir Keir’s stance on the minimum wage.

Corbyn ally Andy McDonald sensationally quit his shadow employment rights role, accusing Starmer of not honouring “our commitment to socialist policies”.

However, plenty in Starmer’s camp saw McDonald’s resignation as a win and a further step away from the Corbyn years.

Earlier today shadow justice secretary David Lammy declared Starmer’s speech would be a “new day, a new dawn” for Labour.

Starmer insisted Labour could win the next general election, telling members they needed to get “totally serious” about it.

He said work, care, equality and security were “British values” and added: “I think of them as the values that take you right to the heart of the British public, that is where this party must always be.”

He said those values were “the tools of my trade” and closed his speech by saying: “And with them, I will go to work.”