Starmer confronted with heckler’s Brexit grievance by BBC host ‘Address your culpability!’

Nick Robinson questions Starmer over his former Brexit stance

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Sir Keir Starmer faced demands to answer for the heckles at his Labour Party conference speech after angry attendees continually heckled the leader for his Brexit failures. At the beginning of his speech, Sir Keir listed off critics of Labour which included those who defected to the Tories, and said he would go into the next election with a “serious plan” for government. But one heckler shouted Sir Keir’s Brexit policy was the reason voters have left with BBC Radio 4 host Nick Robinson putting Sir Keir on the spot and challenged him to address the grievances.

Sir Keir was heckled with one audience member shouting: “It was your Brexit policy.”

The outburst appeared to address Labour’s stance on Brexit which some say alienated some traditional Labour supporters who backed Brexit.

Host Nick Robinson spoke to Sir Keir on his show and wanted a response from the Labour leader on the heckle.

He asked: “Your speech was interrupted again and again by hecklers, mainly supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who thought that you were abandoning what he stood for.

“We will come to that in a second, but one heckle said it was your Brexit policy, is it not right that when you were in a mood of reflection to answer the question that we played a second ago about why labour is unpopular.

“That you address your own culpability, that you Keir Starmer is seen by many people who abandoned the Labour Party as a man who wanted to frustrate democracy, rip up one of the biggest votes held in this country.

“Overturn the referendum, and people are very angry about that.”

Sir Keir rejected the assessment and replied: “Look that is a mischaracterization of everything that happened in those years.

“We were arguing for a deal, we put a deal forward, but when that was obviously going to fail we saw no alternative to the position we put forward in the election.

Keir Starmer heckled during Labour conference speech

“But am I going to accept, head-on, that at that election the forcings people levelled against us over our leader, for better or for worse, our manifesto which over-promised and people didn’t believe it, antisemitism, and Brexit…”

Sir Keir said he was not going to “shy away” from these issues before Mr Robinson interjected.

The BBC host said the “main audience” of Labour did not want to overturn the referendum whereas Sir Keir wanted a second referendum which turned away voters. 

Sir Keir rejected Mr Robinson’s assessment again and said he did not want to go over “old crowd” before explaining there were many factors behind why Labour has lost four elections. 

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The Labour leader added Brexit could not be singlehandedly blamed for the party’s loss and said he would do his best to face the country with a credible plan. 

Sir Keir, who was Shadow Brexit Secretary before he was elected as Labour leader, insisted a second referendum should be held to break the political deadlock in Parliament in 2019. 

MPs were faced with a stalemate as no deal was being successfully passed through the House of Commons with a no-deal scenario looking more likely by the day.

Presenting his much-anticipated speech to the Labour conference, Sir Keir addressed critics of Labour who doubted whether the party could lead the country.

He told the conference hall: “To those Labour voters who rejected us.

“To those Labour who said their grandparents would turn in their graves and they couldn’t trust us with high office.

“Those who reluctantly chose the Tories because they didn’t believe our promises were credible…”

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