Bruised by criticism over last week’s lacklustre PMQs performance – and negative briefings that colleagues think he’s boring – Keir Starmer came out fighting
Keir Starmer has torn into “deluded” Boris Johnson in a PMQs clash where he compared the PM to “Jabba the Hutt” and a “gameplaying” Love Island contestant.
Bruised by criticism over last week’s lacklustre PMQs performance – and negative briefings that colleagues think he’s boring – Mr Starmer came out fighting in a Commons clash on cost of living pressures.
The Labour leader accused Mr Johnson of trying to “perform Jedi mind tricks on the country” with his boasts about the economy but quipped “the force just isn’t with him any more”.
He claimed the PM “thinks he’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, the truth is he’s Jabba the Hutt”, in a nod to the slug-like Star Wars villain.
And he said Mr Johnson was “gameplaying so much he thinks he’s on Love Island”.
“The trouble is, Prime Minister, that I’m reliably informed that contestants that give the public the ‘ick’, get booted out,” Mr Starmer said.
The Labour leader focused his PMQs challenges on the cost of living crisis, where he demanded answers on why the UK was set for lower growth than every other major economy but Russia.
But Mr Johnson insisted the UK would return to the top of the table and tried to change the subject to looming rail strikes, which he accused Labour of supporting.
The PM urged the Labour leader to end his “sphinx-like silence about the RMT strikes”, which are expected to cause travel chaos next week.
Mr Starmer hit back, saying: “He’s in Government, he could do something to stop the strikes. But he hasn’t lifted a finger.
“I don’t want the strikes to go ahead, but he does. He wants the country to grind to a halt so he can feed off the division.”
The Labour leader criticised the PM’s boasting about the economy, adding: “He thinks he can perform Jedi mind tricks on the country. ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for, no rules were broken, the economy is booming’.
“The problem is the force just isn’t with him any more. He thinks he’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, the truth is he’s Jabba the Hutt.”
He compared Mr Johnson to an “ostrich” burying his head in the sand.
But the Prime Minister said: “There he goes again, running this country down… we’ve got the highest employment… we’ve got lower unemployment than France, Germany, Italy, Canada. We’ve got the highest number of people in payroll jobs.”
Mr Starmer then compared the PM’s “gameplaying” to a Love Island hopeful – and warned he could be booted out for giving the public the “ick”.
The Labour leader said: “He says the economy is booming when it’s shrinking. He’s gameplaying so much he thinks he’s on Love Island.
“The trouble is, Prime Minister, that I’m reliably informed that contestants that give the public the ‘ick’, get booted out.”
Mr Johnson replied: “We’re helping people with the cost of living, with £1,200. On July 14 the money will be going into people’s bank accounts. Why can we do that? Because we have the fiscal firepower to do it, because the economy is in a robust shape, with record numbers of people in payroll employment.”
He added: “He has the chance now to clear it up: he can oppose Labour’s rail strikes right now, he can disagree, I give him that opportunity, let him disagree with the union barons who would add to people’s costs in the coming weeks.”
Mr Starmer hit back: “I don’t want the strikes to go ahead. He does so he can feed on the division.”
He said the PM “spouts the same nonsense” each week about the economy, when millions of Brits are being clobbered by rising costs.
He faced relentless heckling from Tory MPs as he attempted to conclude his remarks, in which he labelled Mr Johnson “totally deluded”.