Boris Johnson ‘unable to lead’ and should step down, says Keir Starmer

Labour leader increases pressure on PM as more Tory politicians call for him to quit

Labour leader Keir Starmer has ramped up the pressure on Boris Johnson as the British prime minister fights to save his job, arguing that it is in the "national interest" that he steps down as he is "unable to lead".

In a speech to the Fabian Society conference, the Labour leader accused the Conservatives of running the NHS into the ground because they are "too preoccupied defending his rule breaking". Stressing that "waiting times were the shortest on record" when Labour left government 12 years ago, he said: "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."

“We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a prime minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead,” Starmer said, adding that it was “very important that the Tory party does what it needs to do and gets rid of him”.

Responding to questions after his speech, Starmer said the revelations about coronavirus rule breaches in Downing Street had exacerbated issues people were facing with their mental wellbeing.


He said: “I think, by the way, the scandal of partygate, for want of a better word . . . what’s happened in recent weeks, where it has become obvious that while the vast majority of the British public were obeying the laws the government made, the government and the prime minister were partying in Downing Street. I think that has added to mental health stress because so many people are now asking themselves: ‘Why on earth did I do that then, while they were doing what they were doing?’”

The opposition is not alone in calling for Johnson to step down over rule-breaking following his public apology to Queen Elizabeth on Friday for the parties that took place on the eve of her husband's funeral.

On Saturday Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defence select committee, said that "we need leadership" and Johnson must "lead or step aside".

Asked about the emerging claims of regular "wine-time Friday" gatherings in No 10 despite restrictions, Andrew Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire and a former Johnson ally, repeated his calls for the PM to resign, telling BBC Breakfast: "It doesn't matter whether the prime minster was present or not present – ultimately, he is responsible for what goes on in the government, he's responsible for the culture in No 10 and what we're seeing is a culture where there's one rule for them and the rest of us do what we're told."

He later told Sky News Johnson’s future as prime minister was “untenable”. He said there was a “pattern of behaviour that the inner circle can do what they want and the rest of us have to what we are told”.

“The prime minister needs to do the honourable thing and call it a day for the good of the country.” – Guardian