Keir Starmer has been accused of “crimes against the English language” in a fiery clash with a BBC presenter over his plan to “fix” the UK.
The Labour leader has today unveiled his five “missions” that would shape any future government, claiming that currently “almost nothing works” in a country facing multiple crises.
In a series of media appearances on Thursday morning ahead of his keynote speech in Manchester, Sir Keir was challenged over the wording of the plan by BBC Radio 4 Today programme host Amol Rajan.
Mr Rajan asked the MP: “As a decorated lawyer I do wonder if you should be a bit more worried about crimes against the English language, as we spent the witching hours reading this work and Hemingway it ain’t.”
“From the bottom of page four – organising government around a shared vision – you write: ‘This could mean new structures and ways of working to facilitate collaboration, including replacing some of the cabinet committees with new delivery-focused, cross-cutting mission boards’. “Who is going to vote for that?”
Responding, Sir Keir said “someone who wants the problems fixed” and gave an example of the education and prosecution services working more closely together to tackle crime.
“I ran the prosecution service for five years,” Sir Keir added. “I know that, among the problems I had, was that it was in a silo. If you want to reduce crime, you have to get to grips with your education system, you have to recognise the mental health element of it, the health element of it.”
Mr Rajan went on to ask why anyone would trust Sir Keir after he “abandoned pledges he made while running for leader”, then repeated the question when the MP “answered a question with another question”.
Sir Keir denied that he had abandoned “those important statements of value and principle”, but he said he had to adapt some of them as circumstances changed, such as Covid, Ukraine and the current state of the economy.
In a separate interview, the Labour leader claimed Britain had been in a “crouched position” for too long and needs to grow the “confidence to move forward” as a country. Sir Keir said his plan would boost businesses and vowed to make the UK the fastest-growing economy in the G7.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast about the economy, he said it was vital to fix the “fundamentals” in order to restore “pride and purpose” and unleash the “great potential our country has”.
“They are long-term missions, they are a statement of intent about how we intend to govern and they are very important missions,” he said.
“The missions I am going to outline this morning are predominantly to do with the economy and to have the highest sustained growth in the G7 and sustained is the really important word in that.
“But we also need to make sure the NHS is fit for the future, we need to make our streets safe, we need to make sure that we remove the barriers to opportunity for every child everywhere and we want to be a green clean power superpower country.”