Keir Starmer Says He 'Stands By Every Word' Of Labour's Attacks On Rishi Sunak

“I make absolutely zero apologies for being blunt about this."
Keir Starmer is defiant over Labour's attacks on Rishi Sunak.
Keir Starmer is defiant over Labour's attacks on Rishi Sunak.
Owen Humphreys via PA Wire/PA Images

Keir Starmer has defended Labour’s controversial personal attacks on Rishi Sunak as he accused him of leading a “soft on crime government”.

The Labour leader said he “stands by every word” of a tweet which accused the prime minister of not supporting the jailing of child sex offenders.

That provoked a storm of protest from across the political spectrum, with Starmer being accused of “gutter politics”.

But writing in the Daily Mail, the opposition boss said he is unrepentant about the tone of the attacks as he vowed to “make Labour the party of law and order once again”.

“Our soft on crime government is only part of the problem,” Starmer said.

“Too many people treat this as trivial, unimportant or something Labour shouldn’t talk about.

“Working people suffer when crime is left unchallenged, crime will always be a Labour issue. Try telling the people I meet who are scared to go out at night because their communities suffer the brunt of failures to tackle crime, that law and order doesn’t matter. They will give you short shrift.

“I make absolutely zero apologies for being blunt about this. I stand by every word Labour has said on the subject, no matter how squeamish it might make some feel.
“When 4,500 child abusers avoid prison, people don’t want more excuses from politicians: they want answers.”

HuffPost UK revealed on Friday that Labour was planning to step up its personal attacks on Sunak despite the widespread condemnation of the tweet about child sexual assault.

It has been followed by two more tweets accusing the PM of being soft on crime.

Labour has held talks with political allies in America and Australia over how to take the fight to the Conservatives in the run-up to the next election.

One senior figure said: “Their entire 13 year record is up for grabs next year - from the horrors of the NHS to the failures on crime.”

Elsewhere in his Daily Mail article, Starmer said that over the past decade of Tory rule, the UK has been “set on a path of decline”.

“We have become a country where thugs, gangs and monsters mock our justice system and make decent people’s lives a misery,” he said. “I refuse to just stand by or avoid calling this what it is.”

In a direct attack on the PM’s privileged upbringing, the Labour leader added: “Rishi Sunak and successive Tory governments have let criminals get away with it because they don’t get it.

“They have never lived in those neighbourhoods, they don’t understand people’s lives, they have never walked in those shoes. I have. I know exactly who suffers when government goes soft on crime: not those insulated from its effects, but ordinary, decent people.”

Starmer said he wanted to “make Labour the party of law and order once again”.

“Labour will have zero tolerance for crime,” he said. “But it will also have zero tolerance for those who tolerate crime. It’s time to get serious. Time for the excuses to end. Time for change.

A Labour source said: “We’re determined to take the fight to the Tories. They may not be used to a Labour Party that wants to campaign on law and order but it’s important to Keir Starmer and he wants voters to be in no doubt that we’re on their side.”


What's Hot