Sir Keir Starmer hits back at claims he went missing amid cost of living crisis

·3-min read
Sir Keir Starmer - Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer - Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Sir Keir Starmer on Friday night defended going on holiday during the cost of living crisis as it emerged that Labour’s latest energy policy would save families just £84 a year.

The Labour leader said the foreign trip was the first break he had taken with his family in three years, hitting back at criticism that he had gone missing in action.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, he told Iain Dale, the broadcaster, that one of his children had asked whether they now needed to book time with him through his office.

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson and Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor, also faced criticism for taking holidays.

Sir Keir dismissed accusations that he had vanished over the response to the cost of living crisis, saying: “This business that we haven’t been leading on this is pretty nonsensical.

“The Labour party actually has been all over this for the best part of a year. I said we’ve got to have not just crisis management, but deal with the problem more substantially.”

The comments came amid growing restlessness on the Left of the party over his “weak” response to the crisis.

Backbenchers demanded that he “go further” after it emerged his planned crackdown on rip-off pre-payment electricity meters would save households less than £100.

They praised Gordon Brown after the former prime minister put forward a blueprint to temporarily renationalise energy firms.

In Edinburgh on Friday, Sir Keir said he had been “absolutely leading” on the cost of living, adding that the Tories were adopting his ideas.

He pledged to set out a “comprehensive” plan for dealing with rising prices on Monday and attacked Boris Johnson as a “lame duck” Prime Minister, telling reporters: “We do need a strategic, a credible, plan – and that’s exactly what’s missing from this government.”

Labour has unveiled plans to stop energy firms charging families who have to use pre-payment meters more for their electricity.

The party said it would reimburse providers for the money they would lose using a beefed up windfall tax at a cost of £113 million. Sir Keir said the policy would help four million of the lowest earning households and was only “part of our energy package to tackle the cost of living crisis”.

But the announcement, which analysis showed would save families just £84 a year based on current prices, flopped with some Left-wing MPs.

Dan Carden, the MP for Liverpool Walton, insisted “energy companies should not be reimbursed for bad practice” while Kim Johnson, who represents Liverpool Riverside, urged Labour to “go further” by renationalising utilities.

Momentum, the Left-wing campaign group, said: “We shouldn’t be compensating energy companies for ending predatory practices. We should be nationalising them.”

Left-wing MPs were angered last month when Sir Keir confirmed that he had dropped a pledge to renationalise energy firms. Senior Labour figures said buying back utilities companies would cost too much, and that taxpayers’ money must be spent on helping families through the cost of living crunch.