Starmer recommits to campaign blaming Sunak for living costs

Sir Keir Starmer has told his shadow Cabinet that voters “must know that Rishi Sunak’s fingerprints are all over their struggling household budgets”.

Labour is set to launch adverts blaming the Prime Minister personally for the country’s economic woes, despite its attack ad campaign angering some within its ranks.

A new digital poster to be launched on Tuesday, seen by the PA news agency, says: “Do you think it’s right to raise taxes for working people when your family benefitted from a tax loophole? Rishi Sunak does.”

The Labour leader urged his frontbenchers to “continue to focus relentlessly on exposing the failures” of the Conservative Government in the run-up to May’s local elections.

“Rishi Sunak is the chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest and of the government’s failure to get a grip of the economy and get growth going,” he wrote.

He accused Mr Sunak of “supplying the touchpaper for another Conservative government to blow up the economy” as chancellor and then continuing in No 10 to “make choices which loaded the costs on to working people”.

“The voters must know that Rishi Sunak’s fingerprints are all over their struggling household budgets,” he said.

Sir Keir said he makes “no apologies at all” for reminding voters of this, echoing his Monday Daily Mail article in which he said he made “absolutely zero apologies” for the ad campaign regardless of how “squeamish” it made people.

The new ad says the Tories “have raised taxes 24 times since 2019” while refusing to “close the non-dom tax loophole” for foreign residents in the UK.

Mr Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty previously held the special tax status, reportedly saving her millions, but after criticism said she would pay UK taxes on all her worldwide income.

The initial ad, which accused the Prime Minister of not wanting child sex abusers to go to prison, caused unease among the shadow Cabinet.

The Twitter post highlighted analysis of official data and said that, under the Tories, “4,500 adults convicted of sexually assaulting children under-16 served no prison time”.

It shared a photo of the Prime Minister alongside the words: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”

Senior figures including former home secretary Lord David Blunkett called for it to be withdrawn, saying Labour is better than “gutter” politics.

Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry defended the post on Monday, saying the individual criticism of Mr Sunak was justified as it was “based on clear and objective facts” and he was “in a position to be able to do something about it”.

Labour Party Conference 2022
Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry continued to defend the ads attacking the Prime Minister (PA)

The figures Labour highlighted cover the period from 2010, five years before Mr Sunak entered Parliament. He did not become Prime Minister until last October.

Further scheduled ads will include one suggesting Mr Sunak thinks it is right that the public is paying for the “Conservatives crashing the economy” through higher housing costs.

Labour is hoping to benefit in England’s May 4 local elections as the Tories continue to lag far behind in national polls.

On a campaign visit to Brighton on Tuesday, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will repeat the party’s pledge to help more first-time buyers on to the housing ladder.

They faced a nearly £500-a-month increase in mortgage bills from January to December last year due to rates soaring under Liz Truss’s government, according to Labour analysis.

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