Keir Starmer turned a tricky PMQs into an opportunity to make his differences with Jeremy Corbyn clear

Having run as the unity candidate who stood by every item of the Corbynite manifesto, the Labour leader is now emphasising that he represents a sharp break with what went before, writes John Rentoul

Wednesday 22 July 2020 20:42 BST
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Sir Keir was quick to differentiate his leadership from that of his predecessor
Sir Keir was quick to differentiate his leadership from that of his predecessor (House of Commons/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer faced a dilemma at the last Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) before the parliamentary recess. If he raised the Russia report, Boris Johnson was bound to throw back the previous Labour leader’s refusal to condemn the Russian government for the Salisbury poisonings. But if he asked about, say, the fate of the Uighur in Xinjiang, it would look as if he were afraid of discussing the big national security issue of the day.

So he deserves some credit for taking the dilemma by the horns and asking about the “extremely serious report by the Intelligence and Security Committee” published yesterday and demanding to know why, if it was completed nine months ago, the prime minister had sat on it for so long.

Johnson’s reply was as Labour’s team must have known it would be. He said Starmer “sat on his hands and said nothing while the Labour Party parroted the line of the Kremlin when people in this country were poisoned”.

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