Boris Johnson launches extended personal attack on ‘human weathervane’ Keir Starmer

PM uses policy-light speech to take aim at Labour counterpart

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 06 October 2021 14:34
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Boris Johnson has used his Tory conference speech to launch an extended personal attack on Keir Starmer.

Branding the Labour leader a "lefty Islington lawyer" Boris Johnson accused Sir Keir of being a "human weathervane, the Starmer-Chameleon".

In a keynote address relatively light on policy but filled with invective for his opposition counterpart, the prime minister characterised politics as a battle between a "radical, optimistic Conservatism versus a tired old Labour".

"Did you see them in Brighton last week – hopelessly divided I though they looked, their leader like a seriously rattled bus conductor, pushed this way and that by a Corbynista mob of selotape-spectacled sans-culottes," he said.

"Or the skipper of a cruise liner that's been captured by Somali pirates, desperately trying to negotiate a change of course and then changing his mind."

He accused Sir Keir of "flapping with all the conviction of a damp tea-towel" during the pandemic, stating: "Let's forgive him on the basis that he probably didn't know what he was talking about."

And he added: "In previous national crises Labour leaders have opted to minimise public anxiety and confusion by not trying to score cheap party-political points: one thinks of Attlee or even Michael Foot in the Falklands crisis, and sadly that was not the approach taken by Captain Hindsight: attacking one week, rowing in behind when it seemed to be working - the human weathervane, the Starmer-Chameleon."

Mr Johnson claimed Labour's opposition step four of his Covid unlocking roadmap in July means the UK would "still be in lockdown" had he listened to "Captain Hindsight".

"If Columbus had listened to captain hindsight he'd have been famous for having discovered Tenerife," he quipped, to applause from the Tory faithful.

The rest of the PM’s speech largely focused on the concept of “levelling-up” which he said would raise productivity.

Responding to the speech, Anneliese Dodds , Labour’s party chair, said: “Boris Johnson’s vacuous speech summed up this whole Conservative conference. The PM talked more about beavers than he did about action to tackle the multiple crises facing working people up and down the country.

“Far from getting a grip on the spiralling costs of energy, fuel and food, the Tories are actively making things worse – cutting incomes today for six million families by over £1,000 a year.

“Britain deserves a fairer, greener and more secure future. Last week Labour set out how we can get there. This week it’s clear that after over a decade in power the Conservatives don’t have a clue.”

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