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Opinion: We must stand united against Johnson

PUBLISHED: 11:00 01 August 2019

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer shudders at the thought of Boris Johnson being Prime Minister.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer shudders at the thought of Boris Johnson being Prime Minister.

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This was the week when the unthinkable became reality: Boris Johnson is now our country's Prime Minister. I know many Ham&High readers will shudder, as I do, at this thought.

Johnson was a disaster as mayor of London - wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on vanity projects while doing little to tackle the huge challenges we face, from affordable housing to air pollution. He was the worst foreign secretary in history and has never apologised for his contribution to the continued detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. And he led the campaign to take the UK out of the European Union on the back of lies and false promises.

Now he is in Number 10, Boris Johnson is about to learn very quickly that there is a massive gulf between glib throwaway lines that delight the Tory faithful during a leadership contest and the difficult decisions of leadership.

He will have to get to grips with the biggest national crisis we have faced in a generation. Finding a way through the Brexit impasse will require a Prime Minister who can find a consensus in Parliament and negotiate effectively with our European allies. This would be a challenge for anyone. But, given Boris Johnson's reputation at home and abroad I strongly suspect it will be a challenge he will fail to meet. The make-up of his cabinet - one of the most right-wing in British history - underlines this.

That is why it is so important Parliament redoubles its efforts to do everything it can to stop a disastrous no-deal Brexit. We did it in March and I am confident we can do it again in October. As Labour's Brexit spokesperson, this will be my number one priority and it is what I will be spending the coming months focusing on.

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Given the current situation, it is equally important we seek to guarantee that, whatever Brexit outcome the government puts forward, whether that is a deal or no deal, should be put to a referendum - and in that referendum Labour would campaign for remain.

Boris Johnson will not just inherit the Brexit crisis, though. He will take charge of a country that has suffered after nine years of Tory austerity. The housing market is broken, inequalities are deepening, job insecurity is increasing and the dislocation between our political system and the people who elect us is growing.

Johnson in Number 10 will make this situation worse, not better. His government is simply incapable of dealing with the deep and wide-ranging challenges facing Britain. We must therefore stand united against the politics he represents and do all we can to ensure his time in office is as short as possible.

In the meantime, the summer recess gives me the opportunity to put an extra focus on local matters.

That includes meeting residents to discuss our response to HS2, working closely with the council's Youth Safety Taskforce and holding a series of constituency surgeries.

I hope I will get the opportunity to meet with Ham&High readers over the coming months. However, as ever, if you would like to get in touch, do contact me on keir.starmer.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 020 7219 6234.

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