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Starmer says he will ‘take it to’ UK Government over allegations of Tory sleaze, while on visit to Wales

22 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Keir Starmer. Picture by Chris McAndrew (CC BY 3.0).

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

Keir Starmer has rejected suggestions he’s too nice to mount a serious challenge on Boris Johnson and believes “constructive opposition is the right way forward” for his party.

He said he would be “absolutely taking it to” the UK Government over accusations of Tory sleaze, but said that he had supported them when they had been “right” about the pandemic.

The UK’s Labour leader was speaking in Llangollen where he was supporting Mark Drakeford’s bid to win the Senedd race and local party candidate Ken Skates who is bidding to retain Clwyd South.

Sir Keir, speaking outside Llangollen Health Centre, laughed when it was suggested he was the political equivalent of Ronnie Rosenthal, unable to score open goals left by the Tories.

Boris Johnson has been exposed for not giving accurate information in Parliament and there have been numerous accusations of sleaze, not least around PPE procurement during the pandemic.

It has left critics of the Labour leader suggesting he’s “too nice” to capitalise on his foes’ weaknesses, a claim he rejected when it was out to him by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He said: “No (I’m not too nice). I profoundly believe in a pandemic constructive opposition is the right way forward.

“So, to take the example of a lockdown. I believe lockdowns were necessary – don’t want them but they were necessary.

“Having formed the view and listened to the scientists that they were necessary, for me to simply say ‘seeing as I can oppose I’m going to oppose and vote against them’ – I think most people would say ‘you’ve lost all sense Keir’.

‘Challenging’

“If you think a lockdown is necessary and you think the Government is right about it and the experts are right, you should jolly well back them – so we did.”

The Labour leader said his party was “absolutely taking it to them day in, day out” over allegations of Tory sleaze.

He added: “Where on the other hand the Government got it very wrong – testing was all over the place, protective equipment was all over the place and they were slower to lockdown – we’ve challenged them hard.

“Constructive opposition is about supporting the Government when it is right in a pandemic, the like of which we have never seen before.

“If I had voted against lockdown you would be challenging me really hard.”

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