Poor Keir Starmer. The affrighted knight found the most uncomfortable part of the fence – the wrought iron spiky bit – to sit on this morning during an excruciating run of questions on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Asked five times in the interview if he thought his predecessor as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, would have made a better prime minister than Boris Johnson, Starmer refused to answer, instead repeatedly reminding listeners “we lost” the 2019 general election and skirting the minefield by responding that a “Labour government would be far better than the government we’ve got”.
Of course, two of Starmer’s former colleagues, the ex-Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock, urged voters to back Johnson over Corbyn in the run-up to the December 2019 vote. The former Labour peer and Apprentice granddaddy Alan Sugar did the same.
Although Starmer served as shadow Brexit secretary in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, he has turned his back on his former boss since he became leader. Last October, Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party after claiming its anti-Semitism problem had been “dramatically overstated” by his detractors. He was readmitted into the party, but has not had the whip restored by Starmer. Corbyn currently sits as an independent MP for Islington North.
Because of the Labour Party’s internal politics and his position as opposition leader, for Starmer there couldn’t be a tougher toss-up than Jeremy Corbyn versus Boris Johnson.
But don’t worry, Keir, we’ve all been there. We all faced that grim choice at the ballot box in 2019.