Broken Boris 'too busy defending his rule breaking' says Starmer as PM fights for job

15 January 2022, 10:58 | Updated: 15 January 2022, 11:24

Starmer has fired another broadside at the PM and the Tories
Starmer has fired another broadside at the PM and the Tories. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson is too busy focusing on "defending his rule breaking" instead of leading the country, Sir Keir Starmer has claimed in a fresh attack.

During a speech when he set out his plans for the NHS, the Labour leader said the Tories should have known Boris Johnson was "not fit for office" from the start.

He claimed they were preoccupied with fighting over "a broken spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and deception".

Sir Keir looked to turn the knife while the wounded PM tries to cling onto his job following weeks of partygate allegations.

Those have led to him apologising to the Queen after it emerged a No10 do was held on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, which took place under Covid measures.

And he had to say sorry to MPs in the House of Commons after admitting he attended a drinks do in the Downing Street garden - though he insisted he believed it was a work event.

Read more: When were they not partying? No10 accused of holding 'wine-time Fridays' throughout Covid

Reports say a Government plan is gearing up to save Mr Johnson's job, with the Independent claiming it is being referred to as "Operation Save Big Dog".

Sir Keir, who this week called on Mr Johnson to resign – and was joined in doing so by a handful of Conservative backbenchers and several Scottish Tories – said on Saturday: "Rather than concentrating on getting through the pandemic and bringing down waiting lists, this self-indulgent Tory party is instead having a fight about a leader who they should have known from the start is not fit for office.

"Boris Johnson is too preoccupied defending his rule-breaking and as day follows night when it comes to the National Health Service you can never trust the Tories."

"We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead."

In a speech to the Fabian Society, a left wing group affiliated to Labour, Sir Keir said he wanted to improve health services and said the Tories could not blame Covid for "this mess".

Read more: No10 says sorry to the Queen after lockdown-breaking party night before Philip's funeral

Read more: Tearful funeral worker regrets enforcing Covid rules while No10 partied

"But while the Tories bicker and fight each other on WhatsApp, I want to look to the future because the NHS faces new challenges," he said.

Claims of a raft of parties happening in Downing Street while England was under Covid rules have caused fury – with the apology to Buckingham Palace the latest twist in a damaging saga.

Reports said Mr Johnson's son Wilf had his swing broken during one party, while a photo emerged of a fridge used to stock alcohol being delivered to No10 and a story was published detailing staff use of a suitcase to deliver booze to the seat of Government.

Mr Johnson has asked for critics to wait until an investigation into claims is completed by Sue Gray, a civil servant.

Sir Keir was also accused by Tories of hypocrisy after footage emerged of him enjoying a drink while talking in May 2021, when England was in step two of Covid measures.

Labour said that was a workplace event and speaking to LBC on Saturday, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: "I know for fact it was a work event.

"He was on a Zoom call with an MP colleague to local constituents and he was on a Zoom call because he was following the rules.

"And a break for food while working is entirely different and not at all comparable to stocking a suitcase full of booze from a local supermarket and having parties undercover, while at the same time doing press conferences and telling the rest of the country how they should live their lives.

"Keir Starmer hasn't broken the rules."