The government has been rocked this week by claims of lockdown-flouting Christmas parties held in Downing Street last year.
And on a trip to Northumberland to meet families affected by Storm Arwen which left 240,000 people across the region without electricity.– another crisis which has seen ministers slammed over their response – the opposition chief warned about the impact mounting rows could have on the battle against the Covid-19 Omicron strain.
“I’m very worried that just when we need trust in the Prime Minister, he has destroyed that trust, and it’s all of his own making,” Starmer said on a visit to the Hadston House community project, near Amble.
“[The Prime Minister is] investigating whether a party took place in his own building, it is bordering on the ridiculous.
“Why don’t you just end the investigation by admitting these parties took place and be straight with the British public.
“Communities in Northumberland are paying the price of a Prime Minister who is not fit for office – he should have be focusing on the support they need in response to Storm Arwen.”
This week, Plan B rules were unveiled by Boris Johnson in an attempt to stem a rising tide of Covid-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant.
This includes face coverings for indoor spaces and Covid passports for events.
But some have criticised the timing of the announcement, with South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck among those claiming it has been used to “divert attention” away from claims of Christmas parties held in Number 10.
Following weeks of denials of alleged gatherings in Downing Street in contravention of coronavrius rules in place at the time, a leaked video showing government aides laughing about the events has prompted a Civil Service probe into the row.
But with fears of another tough winter rising, it has led to concerns the controversy could undermine vital public health messages.
“He’s a threat to public health,” Starmer said of the Prime Minister.
“We’re in the middle of the development of a new variant of this pandemic, which is deeply worrying for people across the United Kingdom.
“At a moment like this, you need a Prime Minister the public can trust because we are going to ask people next week to change their behaviour: to wear masks in more places; to work at home if they can.
“We’re making another ask of the public and they are entitled to a Prime Minister who is fit for office, who is honest and who has their trust.”
Responding to the opposition leader’s visit to the county, spokesman for the Northumberland Conservative Party said: “It’s been a year and a half since Sir Keir said he was going to ‘get out of London’ and visit Northumberland.
“We can’t help think if it weren’t for a photo opportunity following Storm Arwen, he wouldn’t be here.”