Angela Rayner says she 'nearly did a full John Prescott' on protester who poured glitter on Keir Starmer

10 October 2023, 18:45

Angela Rayner said she thought she was going to 'do a full John Prescott' after the protester accosted Sir Keir
Angela Rayner said she thought she was going to 'do a full John Prescott' after the protester accosted Sir Keir. Picture: LBC/Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Angela Rayner joked that she nearly "did a full John Prescott" on the protester who doused Keir Starmer in glitter at the Labour party conference.

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The protester accosted Sir Keir as he prepared to begin his keynote speech at the conference on Tuesday. He threw glitter over the Labour leader, before was removed from the stage by security guards.

The protester, since named as Extinction Rebellion affiliate Yaz Ahmawi, 28, shouted "true democracy is citizen-led", before he was pinned down and carried away.

He also shouted: "We are in crisis, we are in crisis. Our whole future is in jeopardy." Mr Ahmawi has since been arrested.

Mr Prescott, one of Ms Rayner's predecessors as Labour deputy leader, is well-known for punching a protester who hit him with an egg at a rally in 2001.

Read more: Screaming protester glitter-bombs Keir Starmer after storming stage during Labour leader's conference speech

Read more: Keir Starmer says Labour would 'take back our streets' as he promises 'decade of national renewal' if elected

Angela Rayner talks to Andrew Marr from the Labour Party conference

Ms Rayner said that Sir Keir's response to the protest was a good illustration of the Labour leader's character.

"If you rant and rave or try and scream at him, you’re not going to get anywhere," she told LBC's Andrew Marr.

"He’s a details man. He’ll look at the details and then he’ll make a decision based on what he thinks is the right thing and what the evidence says on how you get somewhere.

Angela Rayner
Angela Rayner. Picture: Alamy

"He’s very pragmatic in that respect - whereas I’m emotional and I overshare, Keir underscores and he does the detail work."

Asked by Andrew how she reacted to the protest, Angela joked: "I thought I was going to do a full John Prescott at one point. Although Rachel [Reeves] was nearly beating me to it... I’ve never seen her be so angry."

John Prescott surrounded by protesters
John Prescott surrounded by protesters. Picture: Alamy

She added: "Keir handled it really well. The party has changed, we’re not here to protest - we’re here to govern."

Starmer covered in glitter by protester as he begins conference speech

The protester belonged to a Just Stop Oil-affiliated group called People Demand Democracy, who say they want a "fair, proportional voting system for Westminster elections and a permanent, legally-binding national House of Citizens, selected by democratic lottery."

JSO also shared footage, linking it to their demand that Sir Keir “commits to revoking the oil and gas licenses granted by this zombie Tory government”.

Sir Keir responded: "If he thinks that bothers me, he doesn't know me. 

"Protest or power - that's why we changed our party, conference."

Starmer heckler led out of conference by police

The Labour leader added: "And it's just as well it was me because my wife's dress is really beautiful."

The protester was later seen being led out of the conference by police.

Merseyside police said in a statement: "We can confirm that a 28-year-old man from Surrey has been arrested following an incident at the Labour Party Conference earlier this afternoon.

"The man was detained by security at the event and handed over to the police who arrested him on suspicion of S39 assault, breach of the peace and causing public nuisance.

"He has been taken to a police station where he will be questioned by police."

The group said in a statement after the protest: "The people of the UK are more disillusioned by the state of our politics than at any time in living memory - look at the polls. After years of battling over Brexit, lockdown parties, abuse claims, crumbling public services and crashing living standards, people are sick to the back teeth of politicians. And we are furious there is no way to make our voices heard. This has got to change.

"We need a democratic alternative that gives the people of the UK a voice to deal with the major challenges of our time: rampant inequality, an escalating climate crisis, political corruption and on. But what do we have instead? A Labour Party offering very little in terms of real change."

The unnamed man said: "A House of Citizens will realign power in society, it will empower people to set the agenda, guide policies and keep politicians in check. We all need a chance for a seat at the table, we all deserve a voice in the room. A People’s House brings people together like a jury, and provides the time to hear from experts and scientists to decide what policy is best for everyone.

"The Labour Party has been captured, donors and lobbyists have more control over Keir Starmer than his members. A House of Citizens will force politicians to listen to people, it dismantles their relationships with the rich, it would create meaningful change in our economy and fix inequality. It would address the climate and ecological emergency and transform our country. It would listen to scientists and communities and unearth consensus, not profit off conflict and division."

Sir Keir used the speech to claim the “tide is turning” for Labour.

The party was putting a ‘big build’ at the heart of its pitch, arguing that ‘low quality’ green belt land should be repurposed for housing.

They want to create thousands of new homes by streamlining planning and removing red tape.