Sir Keir Starmer 'angry' at public's stories of hardship - as he says he knows what it's like to 'struggle'

Sir Keir Starmer has said he feels "angry" and "emotional" at the some of the stories he is hearing on the campaign trail - because he too knows what it is like to "struggle".

The Labour leader said it was "so disrespectful" for the prime minister to make the claim that "everything's fine" when there are "people who are struggling" with the cost of living crisis.

He also addressed issues of trust regarding the pledges he made for the Labour leadership - many of which have been watered down or abandoned - saying he thought it was better to admit to voters: "I'm sorry, I can't now afford what I said before."

Sir Keir - who is making a conscious effort to show his personal side during the general election campaign - told Sky News's political editor Beth Rigby he felt empathy with those struggling financially, saying: "I do know what it's like to struggle, to see people going backwards in life through no fault of their own."

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The Labour leader spoke to Rigby shortly after delivering a speech in West Sussex that focused on security and which criticised the Tories' policy of national service for 18-year-olds as a "teenage Dad's Army."

He also used the speech and following question and answer session to strike a more personal tone, reflecting on his late mother's illness and bills his family could not afford to pay.

In his interview with Rigby, he referred to a couple he met on the campaign trail who had to "halt" their plans to move house and have another child.

"They're about this sort of sense of going forward in life. And suddenly that was halted and pushed back. I felt emotional. I felt angry.

"And I think that I wanted to get across that when Rishi Sunak says 'everything's fine, we turned the corner', that is so disrespectful for people who are struggling."

Sir Keir told Rigby of how his own upbringing was dominated by his mother's condition, Still's disease, which causes painful swelling in the joints.

He said the "formative" years of his life were spent in "high dependency units with my mum, not knowing whether she was going to make it through".

"As a teenager I found that really hard," he said.

"I found it really, really hard and having to go to school the next day, trying to carry that inside me, that was really hard."

Asked why he had decided to share more personal details with the public, he said: "I wouldn't normally put that out there. I think most families probably wouldn't.

"But it did form me and my mum's determination that - notwithstanding everything that was thrown at her, she would get back up and walk - that's formative for me.

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"But it was difficult when I was 13 and I was first told my mum might not make it through the night. I'll carry that. And you might think other people may think that's the easiest thing to go on national television and talk about.

"For me, it wasn't - it was really difficult."

Put to him that his own sister has said he was "good at most things" but not being "open about feelings," he replied: "I think she's probably spot on."

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One of the key criticisms Sir Keir has come under is his decision to water down or abandon some of the promises he made to become Labour leader, including the one to scrap tuition fees.

Pressed on whether he accepted that not "acknowledging" that he had broken some promises had led to "trust issues", he said: " I think it's more important to stand in front of the electorate and say, I'm sorry, I can't now afford what I said before because of the damage being done to the economy.

"I'm going to tell you in advance of the election what I don't think we can afford to do."