Boris Johnson has been facing demands from Tory MPs to apologise over the Jimmy Savile comments he made towards Sir Keir Starmer as police had to rescue the Labor leader from a mob.
Sir Keir was put into a police car for protection after he faced allegations of “protecting paedophiles”.
At least six Conservatives including a former Cabinet minister joined MPs from across the political spectrum in linking the harassment to the baseless claim Mr Johnson made while under pressure over the partygate scandal.
The Prime Minister falsely claimed the opposition leader “used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile” while Director of Public Prosecutions.
After the incident occurred Johnson tweeted the “behaviour directed” at the Labor leader was “absolutely disgraceful”. However, he did not address the nature of the abuse.
Julian Smith, who previously served as Mr Johnson’s Northern Ireland secretary, tweeted: “What happened to Keir Starmer tonight outside parliament is appalling.
“It is really important for our democracy & for his security that the false Savile slurs made against him are withdrawn in full.”
Former minister Stephen Hammond, one of the 15 Tory MPs to have publicly called for Johnson to resign over alleged Covid breaches, said he agreed with Mr Smith, as did Robert Largan and Aaron Bell, who were elected in 2019.
READMORE: ‘Profoundly dangerous’: PM blasted after UK Labor leader ‘mobbed’ by far right activists
Senior Tory Sir Roger Gale urged Mr Johnson to make a Commons apology on Tuesday over the abuse which he feared could be the result of Mr Johnson’s “deliberately careless” Savile allegation.
“It has, I’m afraid, played into the hands of some rather unpleasant people,” the MP, first elected in 1983, told the PA news agency.
“I think what he ought to do… is to go to the dispatch box tomorrow to condemn the way Keir was treated and apologise.”
The behavior directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful. All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable.
I thank the police for responding swiftly.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 7, 2022
Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons Defense Committee, told the Prime Minister to “apologise please”.
“Let’s stop this drift towards a Trumpian style of politics from becoming the norm,” he added.
Police officers had to step in to protect Starmer as anti-Covid protesters followed him from outside Scotland Yard.
Videos shared on social media depict the abuse yelled at him, shouting about Savile.
Scotland Yard said two people were arrested on suspicion of assault after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer during the unrest.
Mr Lammy said it was “no surprise the conspiracy theorist thugs who harassed” Sir Keir and himself had “repeated” Mr Johnson’s slurs.
But Conservative peer Lord Lilley, a former Cabinet minister, said “we’re all getting a bit precious about this”.
“Both sides are saying the person at the top of the organization is responsible for what happens further down… both sides should probably apologize and stop making personal remarks,” he told BBC Newsnight.
Sir Keir apologized while director of public prosecutions in 2013 for the CPS having failed to bring Savile to justice four years earlier.
There is, however, no evidence that Sir Keir had any personal role in the failure to prosecute the man.
The Prime Minister tweeted: “The behavior directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful.
“All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.