Sir Keir Starmer was made leader of the Labour Party, replacing Jeremy Corbyn, on April 4. On Wednesday, April 22, Sir Keir took part in his first ever PMQs going head-to-head with questions put to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But why exactly was the Labour leader knighted?
Sir Keir criticised Mr Raab for the Government’s handling of testing amid the coronavirus crisis in today’s PMQs.
On testing, Sir Keir said the figure for tests carried out was 18,000, down from 19,000 the day before which is well below the 100,000 target for the end of the month.
He questioned why there is a gap between the number of tests being conducted and the capacity for testing in the UK which has now reached 40,000 tests.
Additionally, he questioned the Foreign Secretary about the number of NHS and social care deaths, asking how many exactly have died.
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Mr Raab insisted the UK had not been too slow to act amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We have been guided by the scientific advice and the medical officers.”
He added: “If he thinks he knows better than they do that is his decision.”
Sir Keir however insisted British manufacturers had been getting in touch with the Government offering help, but many had yet to receive any response and are now instead providing supplies abroad.
The Labour leader said: “Something is going wrong. There is a pattern emerging.”
“We were slow into lockdown, slow on testing, slow to take up offers form British firms.”
Why was Keir Starmer knighted?
The Labour Party’s official title is Sir Keir Starmer, however, he reportedly prefers not to use his title.
Speaking to the Hamstead and Highgate Express newspaper, he said he has “never liked titles”.
He said: “When I was DPP, everyone called me director and I said, ‘Please don’t call me director, call me Keir Starmer.’ It’s a very similar battle now.”
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Sir Keir was knighted in 2014 for “services to law and criminal justice”.
At that time, he had stepped down as head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by the Attorney General.
The Labour leader was, as head of the CPS, responsible for around 7,000 staff members and oversaw roughly 800,000 prosecutions each year.
The politician, 57, held the role for five years from 2008 to 2013.
During his legal career, Sir Keir was at the helm of a number of high profile cases.
For instance, in February 2009, he made the decision not to prosecute any police in the controversial shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Additionally, he decided not to prosecute police officer Simon Harwood in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson in July 2010 until an inquest found Officer Harwood had unlawfully killed Mr Harwood.
Sir Keir was also head of the CPS for the Stephen Lawrence case where he brought the prosecution against two men accused of murdering the 18-year-old.
Sir Keir began his parliamentary career in 2015, when he won his Holborn and St Pancras seat with a majority of more than 17,000 votes.
He supported the now-Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to become Leader of the Labour Party in the aftermath of the election, but it was Jeremy Corbyn who won the race.
Prior to running for leader, Sir Keir held the position of Shadow Brexit Secretary, having backed remain, where he then worked for greater transparency from the Government during the Brexit negotiations.
In his new role, Sir Keir has said he is focused on campaigning for a close trade deal with the EU, with protections for workers’ rights, the environment, consumer standards and jobs.
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