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Defending democracy abroad should not mean PM gets off with partygate – Sarwar

The Scottish Labour leader appeared to disagree with comments made earlier by Sir Keir Starmer.

06 March 2022

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the war in Ukraine should not stop the removal of Boris Johnson from power.

Speaking as the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow came to an end, Mr Sarwar appeared to disagree with the position of UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Sir Keir said there was “still a basic question of trust” in the Prime Minister over the partygate saga, which led to the Metropolitan Police investigating 12 alleged breaches of lockdown rules.

But the UK Labour leader emphasised the need for “unity” to deal with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

A Labour source later added: “Our position is unchanged – we haven’t withdrawn our call for Boris Johnson to resign.”

Mr Sarwar said: “If we talk about the defence of democracy, which we rightly do, it doesn’t mean that we stop doing our own democracy at home.

“I think people would feel more confident if we had a Prime Minister that was competent at home but also competent abroad.

“Let’s have a resolute response on Ukraine and on Russia, but let’s not think we have to stop doing our own politics, our own democracy at the same time.”

In response to an earlier question – where he said he was not aware of Sir Keir’s comments – Mr Sarwar said: “I think what Keir has been quite consistently saying is we have to demonstrate – in the face of Vladimir Putin’s aggression and his imperial ambitions – that we are resolute in this country and in the wider world.

“That we will not divide ourselves in order to allow him to fulfil his ambitions.”

The Scottish Labour leader added that the party would not take an oppositionist stance on the UK’s response to the invasion but would push the Government to go further when needed.

He added: “The issue with Russia and Ukraine is not about us.

“It’s not about our internal fights between the Labour Party and the Tories or the Labour Party and the SNP.

“It’s not about us, it’s about them.”

However, Mr Sarwar said: “It’s clear for anyone to see that Boris Johnson is not fit to be Prime Minister.

“It’s clear for anyone to see that he has broken the trust of the people of the United Kingdom in terms of believing that he could set the rules and not follow the rules himself.

“It’s clear that he has lied to parliament and any decent human being that believes in those principles of democracy and transparency and accountability would have already stepped down.”

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