Starmer: World of difference between Streeting’s senile remark and Tory scandals

Sir Keir Starmer said it was “inappropriate” for Wes Streeting to call Jeremy Corbyn “senile” – but insisted there is a “world of difference” between that and recent scandals in the Tory party.

The shadow health secretary has apologised for his remark in Parliament, saying it was made “in jest”.

Sir Keir said he did not approve of the Labour frontbencher’s choice of language – saying both he and Mr Streeting know it was “not good enough”.

But he suggested recent rows surrounding the conduct of senior ministers were far worse.

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Wes Streeting called Jeremy Corbyn senile (PA)

Rishi Sunak has faced questions over his judgment after reappointing Suella Braverman as Home Secretary six days after she was forced to quit over a security breach.

He also brought Sir Gavin Williamson back into Government despite being told he was under investigation for allegedly bullying former chief whip Wendy Morton.

Sir Gavin was subsequently hit by claims he bullied a former Ministry of Defence official and engaged in “unethical and immoral” behaviour while chief whip.

He has since quit his Cabinet Office role, saying the mounting allegations against him were “becoming a distraction for the good work this Government is doing for the British people” and vowing to clear his name.

During a phone-in on BBC Radio Humberside on Tuesday, Sir Keir was challenged on Mr Streeting’s remark by two listeners, one of whom said their own grandparents passed away from a neurodegenerative disease.

“It’s not appropriate. I know that. Wes Streeting knows that. That’s why he apologised and recognised that even in jest… absolutely it wasn’t appropriate,” he said.

Pressed on whether he should sack Mr Streeting, given Labour has suggested certain Cabinet members should be fired over recent conduct claims, Sir Keir said the shadow health secretary’s case was far from comparable with those of Ms Braverman or Sir Gavin.

“If you consider the issues we’ve been looking at in relation to the Cabinet in the last two weeks, we’ve got Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary. She was sacked for breaches of security – and she’s the Home Secretary – and then she got her job back six days later,” he said.

“And then Gavin Williamson, again… not only the bullying, talking about slitting people’s throats, but also the security risks in relation to him. So I think there’s a world of difference.”

Mr Streeting made his comment about the former Labour leader as Mr Corbyn tried to raise a point of order in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The shadow health secretary could be heard saying: “He’s gone senile.”

Later, the Ilford North MP tweeted about his remark: “In jest, but I accept in poor taste. I’ve dropped Jeremy a note directly to apologise for any offence caused.”

Mr Corbyn, who now sits as independent MP for Islington North after being removed from Labour, appeared to address the comment on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, writing: “Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK. By 2025, over 1 million people will be suffering from the disease. The impact on loved ones is unquantifiable.

“Now, more than ever, we need a National Care Service — publicly funded and free for all those who need it.”