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Politics

Starmer accuses Johnson of ‘parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists’ with Savile claims

Boris Johnson has faced fierce backlash from across the political spectrum after trying to link Keir Starmer to Jimmy Savile.

Labour leader Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of “parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists” with his despatch box comments about Jimmy Savile.

Appearing in parliament on Monday to apologise for the contents of Sue Gray’s initial report, Johnson said Starmer “spent more time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” as director of public prosecutions.

The claim is false, with fact-checking websites saying that while Starmer was head of the CPS at the time, he was not personally involved in the decision not to prosecute Savile.

Alongside the prime minister, fans of the theory include followers of the QAnon conspiracy.

At the start of Prime Minister’s Questions, Starmer used his question to attack Johnson for his use of the claim.

He said: “Theirs is the party of Winston Churchill. Our parties stood together as we defeated fascism.

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“And now their leader stands in the House of Commons parroting the conspiracy theories of violent fascists to score cheap political points. He knows exactly what he is doing. It’s time to restore some dignity.”

Johnson replied by saying Starmer had apologised in 2013, and said: “I think that was the right thing to do.”

Johnson did not face an intervention from Commons authorities when he made the comment, and speaker Lindsay Hoyle yesterday said the comments were not “disorderly”.

He added, however: “I am far from satisfied that the comments in question were appropriate on this occasion.”

Johnson, fighting after Sue Gray’s report revealed police are investigating a gathering in his own flat, used his appearance on Monday at the despatch box to also accuse Labour’s front bench of taking drugs.

The comments, which the FT reports Johnson was advised not to make, were condemned across the political spectrum.

Conservative former chief whip Julian Smith tweeted: The smear made against Keir Starmer relating to Jimmy Saville yesterday is wrong and cannot be defended. It should be withdrawn.

“False and baseless personal slurs are dangerous, corrode trust and can’t just be accepted as part of the cut and thrust of parliamentary debate.”

Johnson’s attacking stance also failed to stop the flow of letters, with senior Tory Tobias Ellwood the latest to reveal he had submitted a letter of no confidence in Johnson.

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