Boris Johnson accused Keir Starmer of supporting an ‘IRA-condoning politician’
The Labour leader snapped back, speaking about his record of prosecuting terrorists in Northern Ireland
Johnson refused to withdraw his remarks after being asked to do so by Starmer and the House of Commons Speaker
It came in a heated PMQs between the party leaders in the wake of the exam algorithm controversy
In a fiery Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Starmer accused the PM of a litany of failures in his handling of the coronavirus crisis in the wake of the A-Level exam algorithm chaos.
Dodging Starmer’s questions about when he was told about issues with the algorithm, Johnson instead shot back by saying Starmer had previously supported remaining in the European Union, and by referencing Starmer’s frontbench service for Jeremy Corbyn.
“This is a leader of the opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician who wanted to get out of Nato and now says absolutely nothing about it,” Johnson said.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle took issue with Johnson’s response, telling the prime minister to stick to answering the questions put to him.
A visibly angered Starmer, who headed up the Crown Prosecution Service before becoming an MP, said: “The prime minister said something about the IRA and I want him to take it back.
“I worked in Northern Ireland for five years with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, bringing peace.
“I prosecuted, as director of public prosecutions, serious terrorists for five years, working with the intelligence and security forces, and with the police in Northern Ireland.
“I ask the prime minister to have the decency to withdraw that comment.”
However, Johnson doubled down after Hoyle invited him to withdraw.
“I listened to the protestations of the right honourable gentleman and I think they would’ve been more in order throughout the long years in which he supported a leader of the Labour Party...” he said, before being cut off by the Speaker.
Starmer concluded: “When the prime minister has worked with the intelligence and security forces, prosecuting criminals and terrorists, he can lecture me.
“I asked him to do the decent thing but doing the decent thing and this prime minister don’t go together.”
Critics of Jeremy Corbyn accuse him of failing to condemn the actions of the IRA after holding meetings with Sinn Fein.
Corbyn said he only met with Sinn Fein during the Troubles, and that was to find a resolution to the conflict.