Boris Johnson risks giving voters the “ick” and being booted out of Downing Street due to his Love Island-style “gameplaying”, Sir Keir Starmer has claimed.
The Labour leader also compared the Prime Minister to Star Wars gangster Jabba the Hutt as he sought to shed his “boring” tag with a series of pop culture references and political attacks on Mr Johnson.
Sir Keir opted to focus on Britain’s expected low economic growth, telling MPs: “As for his (Mr Johnson’s) boasting about the economy, he thinks he can perform Jedi mind tricks on the country. ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for, no rules were broken, the economy is booming’. The problem is, the force just isn’t with him any more.
“Last week he stood there and boasted that we would continue to grow the economy. This week it turns out the economy shrank for the second month in a row. How does it help Britain to have an ostrich Britain with his head in the sand?”
Mr Johnson replied: “There he goes again, running this country down… we’ve got the highest employment… we’ve got lower unemployment than France, Germany, Italy, Canada. We’ve got the highest number of people in payroll jobs.”
The Prime Minister added: “Just in the first five months of this year this country has attracted, I think, £16 billion of investment in its tech sector… three times as much as Germany, twice as much as France. He should be talking this country up, not running it down.”
The Labour leader said: “He says the economy is booming when it’s shrinking. He’s gameplaying so much he thinks he’s on Love Island.
“The trouble is, Prime Minister, that I’m reliably informed that contestants that give the public the ‘ick’, get booted out.”
Mr Johnson replied: “We’re helping people with the cost of living, with £1,200. On July 14 the money will be going into people’s bank accounts. Why can we do that? Because we have the fiscal firepower to do it, because the economy is in a robust shape, with record numbers of people in payroll employment.”
He added: “He has the chance now to clear it up: he can oppose Labour’s rail strikes right now, he can disagree, I give him that opportunity, let him disagree with the union barons who would add to people’s costs in the coming weeks.”
The Labour leader then read out from a “long list” of what Tory MPs think of Mr Johnson and challenged them to reveal who said which remark.
Sir Keir said: “My personal favourite is this: this is a document circulated by his backbench, in which they call him the ‘Conservative Corbyn’. Prime Minister, I don’t think that was intended as a compliment.
“Week after week he stands there and spouts the same nonsense – the economy is booming, everything is going swimmingly, the people should be grateful. But whilst he’s telling Britain that we’ve never had it so good, millions of working people and businesses know the reality.”
Mr Johnson said Sir Keir “tried repeatedly” to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as prime minister, adding: “Speaking from experience, he’s relatively dynamic by comparison with the right honourable gentleman.”
The Prime Minister concluded by saying he was taking decisions “on the side of the British people”, and was heckled when he said of the Opposition: “They’re on the side of the people traffickers who would risk people’s lives at sea, and we are on the side of people who come here safely and legally.”