BBC presenter accuses Keir Starmer of 'crossing your fingers' in plan for economic growth

This is the moment BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire accuses Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of "crossing your fingers" as he set out his plans for economic growth.

Derbyshire, the guest presenter on the Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, called out Starmer after he said he was "confident" his government would achieve economic growth.

He said: "I am confident we will get that growth, it is the single defining mission of an incoming Labour government." Economic growth is one of Labour's "five missions" for the UK. "Everything else hangs off that," Starmer added.

Derbyshire asked: "What if you don't get it?"

"I am confident we will," Starmer responded.

Derbyshire said: "Confident? That's like crossing your fingers."

Starmer said: "No, it's not. That's what the government's been doing. I'm confident because we've got a strategic plan, because I've listened to businesses who say to me: 'These are the impediments in our way.'

"My confidence comes not from coming on here and simply asserting it this Sunday morning, but because of months and years of careful conversations with those who will be delivering this with us. I am absolutely confident that with the right structure and foundation in place, we can do what we need to do, which is grow the economy."

Sir Keir Starmer is interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire on Sunday. (PA)
Sir Keir Starmer is interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire on Sunday. (PA)

Labour conference: latest news

The UK economy continues to reel from the aftershocks of the pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine, as well as political events such as Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's disastrous "mini-budget" a year ago, which sent financial markets into turmoil.

Currys CEO Alex Baldock, also appearing on the programme, praised Starmer for "emphasising growth".

However, he added: "It can be a bit abstract but what growth means is more jobs, more investment, higher living standards... if it happens. But that's the right thing to target at least.

"But what we are looking for now is specific commitments in skills, infrastructure, tax regulation, that can give us confidence of an improvement."

Starmer on course for Number 10?

A leader of the opposition facing robust interviews is nothing new.

But, ahead of the Labour party conference, Starmer's media appearances and speeches are carrying extra weight given he appears to be on course for Downing Street.

On Friday, Labour won the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election by a landslide, achieving a huge 20% swing of votes from the SNP in the process.

Prof Sir John Curtice, the prominent polling expert, said these are "kind of results that you see in advance of general elections when parties are on course to win".

Meanwhile, new polling reported in The Observer suggests Labour is currently on course to win a landslide victory on the scale of the 1997 general election.

It's against this backdrop that even those on Starmer's side are calling for him to be bolder in his rhetoric.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, Labour's biggest union backer, said on Sunday: "I absolutely want a Labour government, of course, but I want a Labour government that is going to make real change to people's lives. And I think at the moment Labour have been too timid."