Starmer: The PM’s jokes will fall flat when people are hit in the pocket

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the Prime Minister’s speech, arguing his jokes are going to “wear thin” when people across the country are hit in the pocket.

Speaking in a pre-recorded interview on ITV’s Peston, Sir Keir said Boris Johnson keeps pretending “he’s just sort of just landed from the moon”, arguing Britain is in a “cost of living” crisis because of the way the Tories have governed.

He said: “The cost of living crisis I think is going to unfold as we go through the winter months, it’s going to hit millions of families very, very hard.

“And I think you know that the showman, the jokes are all very well but they’re going to wear thin when people are hit in their wallet and they’re going to be hit very, very hard in their wallet.”

When asked by Robert Peston if he agrees with Mr Johnson’s view that the UK has to move to a high-wage, high-productivity economy, Sir Keir insisted the Tories should have already achieved this after 11 years in power.

He said: “Look, the Prime Minister is playing this game where he’s pretending that he’s just sort of just landed from the moon and he’s looking around and saying, ‘things look pretty awful around here, we need a bit of levelling up, things are so awful’.

“And he and the Tories have been in Government for 11 years, so we’re in this state because of the way that they have governed the country. They have got a lot to answer for here.

“Of course, we want a high-wage, high-skilled, high-productivity economy, but we need a plan for that, and a plan for that isn’t fuel shortages, gaps on our supermarket shelves and pretending that this is some cunning plan to drive up wages and drive up skills.”

On cuts to Universal Credit, Sir Keir claimed a more generous benefit system should not be funded by more borrowing.

Sarah Everard death
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick must reform her force quickly, the Labour leader said (PA)

He said: “We will pay, we will balance the books when it comes to day-to-day spending, we will borrow to invest, so we’re very clear about that, it will have to be paid for as day-to-day spending.”

Meanwhile, Sir Keir said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick needed to reform the force “quickly” following the failures of vetting processes in relation to Sarah Everard’s killer, former officer Wayne Couzens.

But he added focus for the failures should not fall on Dame Cressida alone.

The Labour leader replied: “There’s a systemic problem that’s been there for 10 years and we’ve been walking round and round and round it, I was looking at it when I was Director of Public Prosecutions.

“I’ve drafted a victims’ law, we’ve said to the Government we will vote with them if they bring forward provisions, they haven’t done so.

“Now is the time for the Government to step up when it comes to violence against women and girls.”

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