Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
19 November 2021

LISTEN: Keir Starmer refuses five times to say whether Jeremy Corbyn would have been a better prime minister than Boris Johnson

Asked repeatedly on a radio interview whether he would prefer his predecessor in No 10, the Labour leader avoided the question.

By The Chatterer

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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

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.

Content from our partners
The shrinking road to net zero
The tree-planting misconception
Is your business ready for corporate climate reporting?

Topics in this article: , , ,