Keir Starmer was mobbed by “protestors” on Monday evening, leading to several conservative MPs calling on the Prime Minister to withdraw his Savile remark.
Last week, after making a statement on the Sue Gray report, Boris Johnson accused Starmer of, during his time as head of the Crown Prosecution Service, having “spent more time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.
At the following PMQs, following calls from MPs on both sides of the aisle to withdraw the remarks, Boris Johnson doubled down, but implied that he was only talking about Starmer’s responsibility for the organisation as a whole, not for any personal failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile.
While Keir Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service at the time that Jimmy Savile was being investigated, he was not personally involved in the case. Starmer accused Johnson of peddling far-right conspiracy theories:
“[The Prime Minister] stands in the house of commons parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists to try and score cheap political points.”
On Thursday, Johnson ally of 14 years, Munira Mirza, resigned over Johnson’s refusal to withdraw the comment.
On Monday evening, a mob, shouting “traitor”, “Jimmy Savile”, and waving placards with slogans opposing vaccination mandates, hounded Labour leader Keir Starmer and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy. Keir Starmer was escorted away from the mob to a police car. Two people were arrested at the scene after allegedly throwing a traffic cone at a police officer.
At least 10 conservative MPs have now called on the Prime Minister to withdraw and apologise for the remarks.
Boris Johnson tweeted a condemnation of the mob but has still not issued an apology.
Technology Minister, Chris Philp denied that any blame could be placed on the Prime Minister, saying, in an interview with the BBC:
“The first comments in the house on the previous Monday were capable of being misconstrued and that is why it is important and right that a couple of days later that Boris Johnson, the prime minister, did clarify that he was not suggesting at any time that Keir Starmer had personal responsibility for the case.”
“I don’t think there is any way you can reasonably suggest that the comments on Keir Starmer’s overall responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service in any way provoked the very unseemly and totally unacceptable harassment we saw last night.”
Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP, and sister of the late MP Joe Cox, who was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016, said:
“I’m incredibly angry and upset by the scenes we saw yesterday. I keep thinking about Keir and David’s families and friends. But these things don’t just happen.”
“Words have consequences, leaders have a duty to behave responsibly and politics is not a game. Our country deserves far better.”