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Tories face backlash over attack on Starmer’s Friday night family time

02 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer – Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The UK Government’s antisemitism adviser has condemned “dangerous” attacks on Sir Keir Starmer over his desire to keep Friday nights free from work.

The Labour leader, whose wife is Jewish, has come under fire from senior Tories after saying he wanted to avoid work after 6pm on a Friday to spend time with his family – although he acknowledged that would not always be possible.

The Tories said that would make him a “part-time” prime minister while Cabinet ministers mocked him, suggesting he would refuse to go to work if there was an international crisis on a Friday evening.

Friday night Shabbat dinners are important in the Jewish faith and Sir Keir has talked about making sure his children are aware of their heritage.

Lord Mann, a Labour peer who was appointed as antisemitism adviser by Theresa May, said: “The attack on Keir Starmer for asserting his right to family time on a Friday night, as he has done for many, many years, is so dangerous.

“So insidious from those aware of why he chooses to be with his family specifically on Friday evenings.”

Cultural significance 

He said: “It’s a very strange thing to attack over. I’m the independent adviser to the Prime Minister and my advice would be this is not an area to stray into.”

He pointed out that Friday nights had a wider cultural significance within the Jewish community, likening it to Sundays in Christian communities.

“There’s a reason Parliament does not sit on Sundays,” he said.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “The attacks on him are a total disgrace and it shows how far these people have fallen, how heavily they’re scraping the barrel and why they need to be removed from office on Thursday.”

Asked on Times Radio if he would work beyond 6pm on a Friday, Mr Streeting said: “I’m sure I will be and I’m sure Keir will be doing so too.”

The Tories have repeatedly attacked Sir Keir since he made the comments on a Virgin Radio interview on Monday morning.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said on X: “Virtually every military intervention we’ve carried out has happened at night, partly to keep our servicemen & women safe.

“The British people will wonder who would be standing in for Starmer between 6pm & 9am – Angela Rayner, David Lammy, Ed Miliband? Defending Britain’s security isn’t a daylight hours only job.”

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho told LBC Radio: “I do think that it’s pretty unrealistic for a prime minister not to work past 6pm.

“I also think it’s a bit odd because they’re also saying they want to make people in the NHS work overtime and at weekends, so I think to do that on one hand, and on the other hand say that you’re not going to work past 6pm is a bit tin-eared.”

Sir Keir said protecting time to spend with his son and daughter made him more relaxed and a better decision-maker.

The Labour leader and his wife Victoria have a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter.

He told Virgin Radio: “We’ve had a strategy in place and we’ll try to keep to it, which is to carve out really protected time for the kids, so on a Friday – I’ve been doing this for years – I will not do a work-related thing after six o’clock, pretty well come what may.

“There are a few exceptions, but that’s what we do.”

He said that in politics “some people think, if you fill your diary 24/7 and don’t do anything else, that makes you a much better decision-maker”.

“I don’t agree with that, I think you’ve got to make space, so we do it.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
16 days ago

From the shower that gave Fat Shanks the trip advisor PM…

The Fat Shanks Effect, from coast to coast sh*t in the rivers, the media and people’s hearts…

To the comment regarding hanging, Jo Cox was stabbed and shot…

16 days ago

Not content with losing the ex Serviceman’s and Servicewomen’s vote he now turns on the Jewish community . Who’s next the blue rinse brigade? The Cheltenham ladies Crown Green Bowling team?

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