05 July 2022

Sir Keir Starmer backs general election calls after ministerial resignations

05 July 2022

The Government is “collapsing” and Boris Johnson is “unfit to govern”, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The Labour leader also said he would support a general election if one were called, after Rishi Sunak quit as chancellor and Sajid Javid resigned as health secretary.

Mr Johnson faces the biggest leadership crisis of his premiership as his handling of the row over scandal-hit former deputy chief whip Chris Pincher became the latest issue to raise questions over his judgement.

Sir Keir told broadcasters: “He is unfit to be Prime Minister. He is not fit to govern the country.

“That is dawning on many people across the Conservative party, but they have to reflect on that, that they have backed him for months and months and months.

“Resigning today means nothing against their complicity for all those months when they should have seen him for what he was, they knew who he was.

“We need a change of government.”

Asked if he would support an election if one were called in the next few weeks, Sir Keir said: “Yes. We need a fresh start for Britain. We need a change of government.”

The Labour leader also suggested a change of government would help to address the “big issues” like the cost-of-living crisis and could provide “political stability”.

In a statement, Sir Keir had earlier described Mr Sunak and Mr Javid as the Prime Minister’s “cheerleaders throughout this sorry saga”.

He added: “Backing him when he broke the law, backing him when he lied repeatedly, backing him when he mocked the sacrifices of the British people.

“In doing so, they have been complicit every step of the way as he has disgraced his office and let down his country. If they had a shred of integrity they would have gone months ago.

“The British public will not be fooled. The Tory party is corrupted and changing one man won’t fix that.”

The shadow chancellor and shadow health secretary meanwhile said the “problem isn’t just Boris Johnson” but the whole Conservative Party.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves tweeted: “Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid and every Tory MP who propped up this corrupt PM are responsible for his failures.

“They should’ve resigned months ago. Changing one man won’t fix this debased party. The truth is the Tory party is incapable of fixing the challenges our country faces.”

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting posted: “Javid and every Conservative MP knew who Boris Johnson was when they backed him only weeks ago.

“The problem isn’t just Boris Johnson. It’s the whole Conservative Party. They are out of ideas, out of steam and out of touch. They are unfit to govern.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged he should have sacked Mr Pincher when he was told about the claims against him when he was a Foreign Office minister in 2019, but instead Mr Johnson went on to appoint him to other government roles.

Asked if that was an error, Mr Johnson said: “I think it was a mistake and I apologise for it. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do.

“I apologise to everybody who has been badly affected by it. I want to make absolutely clear that there’s no place in this Government for anybody who is predatory or who abuses their position of power.”

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