The Labour leader said that while mistakes were made when he was in charge of the CPS, there is no “smoking gun” for the Tories to use against him as campaigning ramps up for a contest expected this autumn.
The Tories have previously sought to use Sir Keir’s time as CPS director, which was from 2008 to 2013, against him. And Rishi Sunak stepped up his attacks on the Labour leader this week, linking him to the extremist Islamist group Hizb Ut-Tahrir, to whom he offered legal advice in 2008 while working as a lawyer.
“When I see a group chanting jihad on our streets I ban them, he invoices them,” Mr Sunak said.
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) January 17, 2024
Labour defended Sir Keir’s work with the group and his legal career, saying he was “doing his job” and pointing to the fact lawyers often work on behalf of people and groups with whom they disagree.
And, despite the Tories’ repeated attempts to use his time as director of public prosecutions against him, Sir Keir said he is not concerned about his past coming back to haunt him.
“If they want to attack me for decisions when I was director of public prosecutions, we had 7,000 staff, we made nearly a million decisions a year,” he said in an interview for ITV programme Keir Starmer: Up Close – Tonight, airing Thursday on ITV.
He added: “Will there be mistakes there? Of course there will, but there’ll be no smoking gun, no skeletons in the closet.”
Sir Keir also told the programme that he never thought former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would win the 2019 general election, despite serving in his shadow cabinet.
“I didn’t think the Labour Party was in a position to win the last election,” he said.
“I didn’t obviously vote for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 or 2016. On the contrary, I resigned.”
Sir Keir said he felt a “responsibility” to stay as shadow Brexit secretary in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.
He said: “I thought that once that 2016 Brexit referendum had happened, I took the view that what then followed in the next few years was going to be felt for generations. And that I thought it was my responsibility to play a full part in that.”
Sir Keir also talked about what he wants to do if he does become the next prime minister.
He told ITV that if Labour win the election, he does not want to grow the economy by taking more money from the super-rich and redistributing it to the poorest.
“That isn’t how I want to grow the economy,” he said.
“Of course, I believe in redistribution, but I don’t think redistribution is the sort of one word answer for millions of people across the country.”
Despite his recent praise of former Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, he also told ITV he believes she tore communities apart.
“What she did was a clarity of mission and purpose. But actually what she did was very destructive,” he said.
The Labour leader previously wrote in a Sunday Telegraph opinion piece that Mrs Thatcher sought to “drag Britain out of its stupor by setting loose our natural entrepreneurialism”.
In a subsequent Tonight programme, ITV will interview Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Keir Starmer: Up Close – Tonight will air Thursday on ITV1 and ITVX at 8.30pm.