Keir Starmer on the direction of his Labour leadership

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Sir Keir Starmer has said he would be “chucked out” of the Commons if he took his personality from the football pitch into Parliament. In a wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan, the Labour leader spoke about his childhood, the death of his mother and his strained relationship with his father. But politically, he said now was a “pivotal moment” for both him personally and his party.

Journalist Mr Morgan told Sir Keir, in an episode of ITV’s Life Stories , that his friends described him as “loud” and “garrulous” and that he was “a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he’s Patrick Vieira”.

But Sir Keir said: “There’s a big difference between the forensic lawyer and Keir on the football pitch. If I was Keir on the football pitch, I think I’d be chucked out by the Speaker.

“So we’ve got to be careful about how far we go.”

He said: “Let me get out there, let me take the mask off, because we’ve been living in restrictions.

“As we come out of this, this allows the space to open up, the pandemic allows the political space to open up, the restrictions allow me to open up.”

Asked what he would say to Boris Johnson right now, he said: “Move over, we’re coming.”

But asked what he would say to the Prime Minister on the football pitch, he said: “I’d probably knock him over.”

On Labour’s prospects, Sir Keir said: “I’m not going to pretend the last few weeks have been easy, but there’s a huge emotion that runs through the Labour Party, and we lost in Hartlepool, we lost badly.

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“But when you want to win, it hurts to lose. There’s emotion there.”

He said his three top priorities were a “first-class education for every child. Second thing, to make sure our economy deals with insecurity and inequality. A third thing is to put real dignity into older age”.

He added: “The biggest change we need to make is a Labour Party that stops looking in on itself and looks out to the electorate, to the voters.”

And he said already he was proud of his work to get rid of anti-Semitism from the party.

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“We had to make changes, so on things like anti-Semitism, it was really important to me and to the party, I think, to the country, that we dealt with anti-Semitism,” he said.

“We’ve begun to do that, taken some really, really important steps. We’re turning the party around.”

During the interview Sir Keir refused to say whether he had ever taken drugs, despite Mr Morgan asking him several times.

“I spent my university days in the library,” he said.

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