Keir Starmer has claimed a story this morning about a top advisor reaching out for a meeting with Just Stop Oil is nonsense, though the wording of his denial will raise eyebrows.
Last night the Mail on Sunday revealed his parliamentary private secretary, Jess Morden, offered Just Stop Oil the opportunity to “come in and chat” with activists claiming she was “trying to sell us on how Labour is still driven” by environmental issues.
This morning he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that the story is “nonsense”.
“There haven’t been meetings and engagement, there was some nonsense story in the Mail today.
“I’ve not met them, my team aren’t meeting them, it’s a complete distraction”.
The Express has contacted the Labour leader’s spokesman and asked whether the Labour leader completely denies the existence of any contact between his PPS and Just Stop Oil.
Sir Keir also denied reports from last week that during a meeting of his shadow cabinet he said he “hates tree huggers”.
The Labour leader claimed he was talking about having met steelworkers in Scunthorpe who are pushing to go green without being “tree huggers”
“I was simply saying this workforce – you can imagine the Scunthorpe steelworkers – they’re not tree huggers, but they are very very determined to go green.”
He reiterated his condemnation of Just Stop Oil and said the right to protest is not a blank cheque to disrupt people’s lives.
“Of course there’s the right to protest but it’s not an absolute right. It doesn’t mean you can simply do what you like and say ‘there’s a right to protest’.
“It’s always been a balanced right, which means yes there’s a right to protest but you’ve got to bear in mind the impact on other people
“And when you stand in a road, or block a road, when ambulances need to get there – my mum was very ill for most of her life and had to travel in ambulances to hospital and many people watching this will have a similar experience – the idea that you can simply arrogantly stand in front of an ambulance and stop it getting to hospital, I think, is wrong.”
This morning Suella Braverman published a letter she’d sent to the Labour leader demanding he sack his PPS Jess Morden as well as any other Just Stop Oil-sympathising shadow minister – including Ed Miliband.
She wrote: “I appeal to you now to stop, in your own words, bowing to fringe lobbies and extremists. I appeal to you to behave in the same way both in public and in private.
“That must mean sacking Jess Morden MP and all your other frontbenchers, such as Ed Miliband MP and Kerry McCarthy MP, who have expressed sympathy with JSO or Extinction Rebellion.
“It must mean abandoning your ruinous plans to end new oil and gas licences, and supporting our measures to stop JSO street-blockers.
“And it must mean ordering all officeholders in your party, including your government in Wales, to end contact with the extremist groups.”
“It is increasingly clear to me, and to the country, that Labour under your leadership has become the political wing of Just Stop Oil”.
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