‘I’d knock Boris Johnson over on a football pitch’ says Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would knock Boris Johnson over if they were on the football pitch as he warned the Prime Minister in his wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan: ‘Move over, we’re coming.’

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is ‘brimming with manly passion’ as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, the Bridget Jones love interest.

But he refused to deny having ever taken drugs while he was a student at Leeds University in the early 1980s, despite being given 14 opportunities to do so by the MailOnline columnist on Life Stories on ITV tonight.

During the broadcast, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as ‘loud’ and ‘garrulous’ and that he was ‘a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he’s Patrick Vieira’.

But the Labour leader, who is facing dissent within the party following its disastrous performance in the local elections last month, said: ‘There’s a big difference between the forensic lawyer and Keir on the football pitch. 

‘If I was Keir on the football pitch, I think I’d be chucked out by the Speaker. 

‘So we’ve got to be careful about how far we go. Let me get out there, let me take the mask off, because we’ve been living in restrictions. As we come out of this, this allows the space to open up, the pandemic allows the political space to open up, the restrictions allow me to open up.’

Asked what he would say to Mr Johnson right now, he said: ‘Move over, we’re coming.’ But asked what he would say to the Prime Minister on the football pitch, he said: ‘I’d probably knock him over.’

Sir Keir also spoke out about his childhood, the death of his mother and his strained relationship with his father, who he claimed only told him he was proud of his son just once before his death.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would knock Boris Johnson over if they were on the football pitch as he warned the Prime Minister in his wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan: 'Move over, we're coming'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would knock Boris Johnson over if they were on the football pitch as he warned the Prime Minister in his wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan: 'Move over, we're coming'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would knock Boris Johnson over if they were on the football pitch as he warned the Prime Minister in his wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan: ‘Move over, we’re coming’

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is 'brimming with manly passion' as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones' love interest

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is 'brimming with manly passion' as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones' love interest

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is ‘brimming with manly passion’ as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’ love interest

During the ITV show, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as 'loud' and 'garrulous' and that he was 'a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he's Patrick Vieira'

During the ITV show, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as 'loud' and 'garrulous' and that he was 'a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he's Patrick Vieira'

During the ITV show, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as 'loud' and 'garrulous' and that he was 'a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he's Patrick Vieira'

During the ITV show, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as 'loud' and 'garrulous' and that he was 'a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he's Patrick Vieira'

During the ITV show, Morgan told Sir Keir his friends described him as ‘loud’ and ‘garrulous’ and that he was ‘a guy who plays football every Sunday and kicks seven bells out of people, beating his chest like he’s Patrick Vieira’

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

Sir Keir also spoke out about his childhood, the death of his mother and his strained relationship with his father, who he claimed only told him he was proud of his son just once before his death

Sir Keir also spoke out about his childhood, the death of his mother and his strained relationship with his father, who he claimed only told him he was proud of his son just once before his death

Sir Keir also spoke out about his childhood, the death of his mother and his strained relationship with his father, who he claimed only told him he was proud of his son just once before his death

When he was asked how many sexual partners he had before meeting his wife Victoria, the Labour leader joked he did not want to 'do a Nick Clegg'. The former Liberal Democrat leader told Morgan he had slept with as many as 30 women

When he was asked how many sexual partners he had before meeting his wife Victoria, the Labour leader joked he did not want to 'do a Nick Clegg'. The former Liberal Democrat leader told Morgan he had slept with as many as 30 women

When he was asked how many sexual partners he had before meeting his wife Victoria, the Labour leader joked he did not want to ‘do a Nick Clegg’. The former Liberal Democrat leader told Morgan he had slept with as many as 30 women

During the interview, Sir Keir refused to say 14 times whether he had ever taken drugs, despite Morgan asking him repeatedly. 

In the programme, Morgan asks Sir Keir, amid claims the Labour leader was a ‘party animal’ at university: ‘Have you ever dabbled in anything stronger than alcohol?’

Sir Keir replies: ‘I spent my university days in the library,’ he said.

Asked whether he really spent all his time studying, he said: ‘No, we had a good time. We had a good time. We went to bars, went to gigs. We worked hard, we played hard.’ 

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is 'brimming with manly passion' as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones' love interest

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is 'brimming with manly passion' as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones' love interest

The former Director of Public Prosecutions also revealed he moisturises every day and is ‘brimming with manly passion’ as he batted away suggestions he was the inspiration for Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’ love interest

But when pressed for more detail by Morgan, he stated: ‘Drugs weren’t my thing.’

Mr Morgan insists it should be a ‘yes or no’ response. ‘Given your clear reluctance to give me a straight, simple answer, am I right in assuming from your response that you have tried drugs but that you didn’t actually like them and didn’t want to take any more?’ he tells the Labour leader.

‘I’m not saying it was your thing, but you did try it. I mean, you’re reluctant to just say yes. You haven’t said no.’

Sir Keir said: ‘I haven’t said no.’

When he was asked how many sexual partners he had before meeting his wife Victoria, the Labour leader joked he did not want to ‘do a Nick Clegg’. The former Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister told Morgan in 2008 that he had slept with as many as 30 women. 

Morgan also showed photographs of Sir Keir sporting what is now known as a ‘Meet Me At McDonald’s’ haircut with three friends he lived with while studying at Leeds.  

In the throwback picture, the former barrister looks a world away from the slick suits and immaculately groomed hair most would associate him with today.  

Sir Keir Starmer in a 1980s throwback

Sir Keir Starmer in a 1980s throwback

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even 'boring', repeatedly broke down in tears during the interview

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even 'boring', repeatedly broke down in tears during the interview

The Labour leader (left in a throwback pictured; and, right, during the interview) looks a world away from the slick suits and neat hair that have become his trademark. Sir Keir repeatedly broke down in tears during the interview

Sir Keir Starmer (bottom right) pictured in a 1980s throwback snap posted on Twitter by Piers Morgan ahead of the airing of the Labour leader's ITV Life Stories interview tonight

Sir Keir Starmer (bottom right) pictured in a 1980s throwback snap posted on Twitter by Piers Morgan ahead of the airing of the Labour leader's ITV Life Stories interview tonight

Sir Keir Starmer (bottom right) pictured in a 1980s throwback snap posted on Twitter by Piers Morgan ahead of the airing of the Labour leader’s ITV Life Stories interview tonight

During the interview, Sir Keir refused to say 14 times whether he had ever taken drugs, despite Morgan asking him repeatedly

During the interview, Sir Keir refused to say 14 times whether he had ever taken drugs, despite Morgan asking him repeatedly

During the interview, Sir Keir refused to say 14 times whether he had ever taken drugs, despite Morgan asking him repeatedly

Sir Keir co-founded the prestigious Doughty Street Chambers before he was made Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008

Sir Keir co-founded the prestigious Doughty Street Chambers before he was made Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008

Sir Keir co-founded the prestigious Doughty Street Chambers before he was made Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008

‘We’ve a once-in-a-generation chance to make UK more caring’ he tells Piers

Britain has a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to change, Sir Keir tells Piers Morgan in the interview.

‘We’re a brilliant country, we’ve done fantastic things. Labour governments have done things we’re really, really proud of. But we’ve got this once in a generation opportunity,’ he says.

‘The pandemic has brutally exposed so much of what’s wrong; the inequality, the insecurity, whether it’s work, education, health, you name it. Brutally exposed that.

‘But it’s also done something I haven’t seen in my lifetime, which is to expose the very best of Britain. That knock on the door, looking after one another, the empathy, the community spirit. We need to bring that together, change what needs to be changed.’

Sir Keir has faced criticism after his party’s humiliation at the polls earlier this month. His strategy of highlighting Tory ‘sleaze’ failed to appeal to voters and a near civil war broke out when he tried to demote his deputy Angela Rayner.

He is asked by Mr Morgan to reveal the three words that sum up his vision for Britain. ‘Pride in our country and pride in everything we do. Dignity for children growing up, dignity at work and dignity for people in older age. And change. We can’t talk about things, we have to change things,’ he replies. Asked what issues he would prioritise should he become Prime Minister, he says: ‘A first-class education for every child, where there are real inspiring opportunities for children coming out of school.

‘To make sure our economy deals with insecurity and inequality. That means changing from short-term investment, short productivity, a low-skilled economy into a different economy. Big things, big changes. Put real dignity into older age. And that means fixing our public services and fixing things like social care.

‘These are the big ticket items coming out of the pandemic. They were the big ticket items before but now they are just more brutally exposed. I think the single most important thing is an active Labour government that wants to ensure our economy actually works for millions of people it doesn’t work for now.

‘A partnership between an active Labour government and business that changes our economy, grows our economy, takes advantage of tech and automation…

‘Of course, it’s got to be paid for. But before we get to the tax and spend discussion, the first discussion is how do you grow your economy? If your economy isn’t growing then you’re taxing less and less. So you’ve got to have a plan to grow the economy. Short-term investment, short-term skills is a broken model.’

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The hairstyle dubbed the ‘Meet me at McDonald’s’ originated from a social media trend on Twitter and Facebook about six years ago which poked fun at ‘chavvy’ attire worn by teenagers who meet up at the fast food giant.

Morgan had speculated that the photograph of Sir Keir could have shown him in a band, for the politician was an accomplished young musician having played the flute, piano, recorder and violin in his childhood.

Morgan asked him in the interview: ‘You also wore eyeliner, we have a picture, this is fantastic. James Dean look going on here. What were you, were you a group, a band, what was going on here, a gang?’

Sir Keir replied: ‘We were a gang. These are the people I lived with in Leeds.’ Morgan said the skull in the photo was ‘weird’, and joked that Sir Keir was holding ‘one of those cheeky spliffs’ after discussing drugs earlier in the chat.

Sir Keir was a talented musician as a youngster and attended the Guildhall School of Music in London as a young scholar. Speaking in 2015 to Primrose Hill magazineOn The Hill, Sir Keir was asked about his interests outside work and said: ‘Music, classical music. I was a junior exhibitioner at the Guildhall School of Music till 18.

‘I played the flute, piano, recorder and violin. Then I realised at the age of 17-18 that the other people at the Guildhall were hugely talented, whereas I just practised hard.’

He added that his favourite music was ‘Beethoven piano sonatas’ before clarifying ‘actually all things Beethoven’, and added that his favourite musician was Israeli pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim.

And Starmer’s style is reportedly ‘in vogue now’ according to hairdressing experts. 

The owner of Gusto Hairdressing, Andre Johnson, said: ‘The style itself is what’s in vogue now – i.e. shaggy on top with low grades at the side. This is an extreme example though – who knew Kier could be a trendsetter.’

While Brooke Evans, owner of B.E. Ironbridge, said: ‘For me this is an extreme disconnected short haircut, I know since Covid, lots of guys are enjoying working with a little more length! 

‘I’m not sure it’s an intended style, but I guess that’s what fashion is sometimes, a mistake that people run with! 

‘I can’t imagine people coming in and asking for a ‘meet me at McDonald’s haircut’ but I could be wrong!’ 

Born to parents Rod, a toolmaker, and Jo, Sir Keir was the second of four children and raised in ‘a ramshackle, 1930s pebble-dashed semi’ in Oxted, East Surrey. He went to Reigate Grammar School before studying law at Leeds University and then Oxford.   

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even boring, repeatedly broke down in tears during his three-hour discussion.

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office.

The show was filmed in front of 40 people, including Sir Keir’s wife Victoria, who could also be seen wiping away tears during parts of the show.

Because of the pandemic, it was the first time Sir Keir had sat before a live audience since becoming Labour leader in April 2020. It comes as he faces growing dissent in his party after terrible election results last month. 

Morgan said of the interview: ‘I’ve done 100 shows and I’ve rarely seen such raw emotion from any of my guests. People often ask, ‘Who is the real Keir Starmer?’ Well, there is a lot more to him than people think.

‘This is the interview that shows the real him and it is one of the most searingly honest and intensely emotional interviews I’ve ever done. 

‘You are left with a real sense of a man who comes from humble beginnings who has worked extremely hard and has had to overcome terrible adversity and a string of family tragedies, all of which have shaped him into the person he is today.’

In the emotional interview, the Labour leader also revealed how his father became a recluse and gave up on life after his wife’s death. Sir Keir said: ‘When she died, it broke him. She was his whole life.’

He described how a fire ripped through an outhouse killing the family dog, destroying irreplaceable family photographs and precious heirlooms including his mother’s gold wedding band.

And he also revealed how he was forced to put last year’s Labour leadership race on hold to be with his wife Victoria after her mother fell downstairs and spent 17 days in intensive care but never regained consciousness.

Sir Keir co-founded the prestigious Doughty Street Chambers before he was made Director of Public Prosecutions in 2008.

He was knighted by Prince Charles for his service to law and criminal justice in 2014. His parents attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace alongside their beloved Great Dane dog – although by that stage his mother was gravely ill and in a wheelchair.

In his personal life, Sir Keir has said it was one of his big regrets that his mother could not see him elected as an MP.

The episode of Piers Morgan's Life Stories on ITV featured an appearance by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock

The episode of Piers Morgan's Life Stories on ITV featured an appearance by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock

The episode of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories on ITV featured an appearance by former Labour leader Neil Kinnock 

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even boring, repeatedly broke down in tears during his three-hour discussion

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even boring, repeatedly broke down in tears during his three-hour discussion

Sir Keir, often portrayed by critics as being unemotional and even boring, repeatedly broke down in tears during his three-hour discussion

He also spoke about taking time out from his leadership campaign early last year to support his wife Victoria, suggesting it was an example of him putting his family before politics

He also spoke about taking time out from his leadership campaign early last year to support his wife Victoria, suggesting it was an example of him putting his family before politics

He also spoke about taking time out from his leadership campaign early last year to support his wife Victoria, suggesting it was an example of him putting his family before politics

Keir Starmer with his parents, Rodney and Josephine, taken on his wedding day to wife Victoria Alexander in 2007

Keir Starmer with his parents, Rodney and Josephine, taken on his wedding day to wife Victoria Alexander in 2007

Keir Starmer with his parents, Rodney and Josephine, taken on his wedding day to wife Victoria Alexander in 2007

Sir Keir’s mother, Josephine, died just two weeks before he was elected for Holborn and St Pancras in 2015, and he described the difficulty she faced living with Still’s disease, an incurable autoimmune condition.

‘It’s a disease that attacks your joints,’ Sir Keir said. ‘For some people it comes and goes. For mum, it came and it came and it came again.’

The illness meant she spent many years in and out of hospital and by 2015 Sir Keir said: ‘You have to understand, she was so ill by then.

‘That was the stage of her life where she’d had her leg amputated. She couldn’t move really. She couldn’t use her hands, she had to be fed, she couldn’t speak, couldn’t communicate.

‘And I’d have loved her to have been there, but she was in a terrible way by then, a terrible, terrible place.

‘One of my biggest regrets is that our kids never knew her, because by the time they were born, she was incapable of moving, speaking, or being who she was. And she was broken by then.’

Speaking through tears, Sir Keir said he did not get the chance to say all he wanted to say to his mother before her death. Asked what he would have liked to have told her, he said: ‘I love you.’

And he said his father Rodney ‘lived but he didn’t recover’ from her death, and lived in an outhouse on the family’s property, where they had both stayed in her final years.

‘After she died, my dad retreated into this outhouse, where he slept there and he put all of the family belongings there.

‘He had my mum’s wedding ring next to him on his bed, and his pictures of my mum, like a shrine in a way, almost. But something had gone out for him.

‘In losing my mum, he got ill. He got cuts to his legs, and then that got blood poisoning in, and he got worse and slightly delirious, and we had to take him to hospital, and in that time he stopped trying to fight, and tragically died at the hospital.’

Sir Keir described his father as having a ‘real difficulty expressing his emotions’, and said he only once told him he was proud, after he passed his 11-plus exams.

Sir Keir's wife Victoria could also be seen wiping away tears during parts of the show, which will air on ITV at 9.30pm tonight

Sir Keir's wife Victoria could also be seen wiping away tears during parts of the show, which will air on ITV at 9.30pm tonight

Sir Keir’s wife Victoria could also be seen wiping away tears during parts of the show, which will air on ITV at 9.30pm tonight

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

He recounted the personal tragedies that have shaped him, including how his desperately-ill mother died just weeks before he was sworn in as an MP and never got to see him in office

Because of the pandemic, it was the first time Sir Keir had sat before a live audience since becoming Labour leader in April 2020. It comes as he faces growing dissent in his party after terrible election results last month

Because of the pandemic, it was the first time Sir Keir had sat before a live audience since becoming Labour leader in April 2020. It comes as he faces growing dissent in his party after terrible election results last month

Because of the pandemic, it was the first time Sir Keir had sat before a live audience since becoming Labour leader in April 2020. It comes as he faces growing dissent in his party after terrible election results last month

‘As I was growing up, there was a distance,’ he said. ‘And what I’ve learned from my dad is, obviously a sense of duty, a strong sense of pride and dignity in work.’

He added: ‘I will be different with my kids.’

On Labour’s prospects, Sir Keir said: ‘I’m not going to pretend the last few weeks have been easy, but there’s a huge emotion that runs through the Labour Party, and we lost in Hartlepool, we lost badly.

‘But when you want to win, it hurts to lose. There’s emotion there.’

He said his three top priorities were a ‘first-class education for every child. Second thing, to make sure our economy deals with insecurity and inequality. A third thing is to put real dignity into older age’.

He added: ‘The biggest change we need to make is a Labour Party that stops looking in on itself and looks out to the electorate, to the voters.’

And he said already he was proud of his work to get rid of anti-Semitism from the party.

‘We had to make changes, so on things like anti-Semitism, it was really important to me and to the party, I think, to the country, that we dealt with anti-Semitism,’ he said.

‘We’ve begun to do that, taken some really, really important steps. We’re turning the party around.’

Sir Keir said he is ‘turning the party around’ as he said Labour needed to stop looking inwards to make inroads to electoral success.

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in Westminster on Wednesday last week

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in Westminster on Wednesday last week

Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons in Westminster on Wednesday last week 

The Labour leader was presented with the analysis of former prime minister Tony Blair, who said the party needed a ‘total deconstruction and reconstruction’.

Asked by Morgan whether that was advice he needed to listen to, Sir Keir said: ‘Yes. The biggest change we need to make is a Labour Party that stops looking in on itself and looks out to the electorate, to the voters.

‘I’m going to go and talk across the country this summer to people who are no longer voting Labour and hear for myself what they have to say and show that reconnection.’

Sir Keir said the three things which would describe a Britain under his leadership would be ‘pride in our country, dignity… dignity for children growing up, dignity at work, and change’.

And he said already he was proud of his work to rid anti-Semitism from the party.

‘We had to make changes, so on things like anti-Semitism, it was really important to me and to the party, I think, to the country that we dealt with anti-Semitism,’ he said.

‘We’ve begun to do that, taken some really, really important steps. We’re turning the party around.’

He also spoke about taking time out from his leadership campaign early last year to support his wife Victoria, suggesting it was an example of him putting his family before politics.

Asked whether he was a romantic, Sir Keir said: ‘I think probably yes.

‘You can buy flowers on someone’s birthday, you can do (that) on the traditional occasions, etcetera etcetera. That is good. That is fantastic. And so you should, and you’re not going to be forgiven if you don’t.

‘What matters is are you there when that person absolutely needs you? So, when Vic has needed me, I’ve tried to be there.’

In January 2020, Sir Keir cancelled leadership campaigning after his wife’s mother fell down the stairs, and subsequently died.

‘I took the decision to cancel the leadership campaigning and withdrew completely,’ he said.

‘I had to be there and try to do something I’d never done before which was to comfort someone who was going through grief.

‘I’d done it, my mum had died, I’d been through my version of that grief, but to see your wife go through it is deep.

‘That was hard, important, and for me that meant more than whether I bought flowers on this occasion or that occasion. The decision was obvious, I was never making a different decision. And Vic would do exactly the same for me.’ 

Keir Starmer’s tears for Piers cried out for sympathy: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS watches the Labour leader doing all he can to dispel his ‘robotic’ image on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

By Christopher Stevens for the Daily Mail 

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories: Sir Keir Starmer

Rating:

Come on, guys. Why aren’t we all smitten with Sir Keir Starmer? He’s got brains, movie star glamour, wry sitcom humour… everything an ambitious politician requires.

Except, of course, votes. Labour’s support has floundered since Sir Keir stepped in as leader last year. Could it be that, by assembling a figurehead from numbered components like an Airfix kit, the party apparatchiks have created something plastic and hollow?

His credentials were given a thorough polish by fellow football fan Piers Morgan in a face-to-face interview packed with praise and gentle joshing. But the real purpose of this conversation was to banish the impression that he lacks charisma.

‘Keir Starmer always gives the impression of being quite robotic,’ Piers worried.

By talking openly and frankly about his mother’s lifelong illness and his difficult relationship with his father, the former Director of Public Prosecutions did all he could to dispel that image.

From the opening exchange it was plain that Sir Keir Starmer (left) is a likeable, self-deprecating chap. Pictured: Starmer with Piers Morgan

From the opening exchange it was plain that Sir Keir Starmer (left) is a likeable, self-deprecating chap. Pictured: Starmer with Piers Morgan

From the opening exchange it was plain that Sir Keir Starmer (left) is a likeable, self-deprecating chap. Pictured: Starmer with Piers Morgan

He didn’t break down and weep like a reality TV star. But he did choke up several times, and his eyes welled with unfeigned tears.

From the opening exchange it was plain that Sir Keir (‘I’m Keir, I’ve been Keir all my life and it’s worked really, really – I’ve been called a lot worse!’) is a likeable, self-deprecating chap.

He’s the son of working-class parents, who went to a state school. He laughs at himself. He moisturises daily.

But it’s not enough to be pleasant and capable in the social media age. We expect more than that. And Piers did his darndest to supply it. 

During his years on Good Morning Britain he was combative and relentless, arguably the best political interviewer on TV. In his one-to-one encounters on Life Stories (ITV) with the likes of Michael Barrymore and Alan Sugar, he has levelled tough questions, too, at times.

This time, he was playing tippy-tappy, passing the ball with the gentlest of sidefoots. Both men support the same football club: perhaps this was just the camaraderie of the terraces.

It’s amazing what an Arsenal season ticket will get you.

Clips from vintage telly comedies compared Keir's youthful idealism to the antics of Citizen Smith and the Tooting Popular Front. Pictured: Starmer in his student days

Clips from vintage telly comedies compared Keir's youthful idealism to the antics of Citizen Smith and the Tooting Popular Front. Pictured: Starmer in his student days

Clips from vintage telly comedies compared Keir’s youthful idealism to the antics of Citizen Smith and the Tooting Popular Front. Pictured: Starmer in his student days

Was it true, Piers wondered, that Keir in his days as a human rights lawyer was the inspiration for Colin Firth’s character in Bridget Jones’s Diary?

‘Are you brimming with manly passion?’ he asked. ‘Always,’ Keir assured him.

Clips from vintage telly comedies compared Keir’s youthful idealism to the antics of Citizen Smith and the Tooting Popular Front (‘Power to the people!’ crowed a 1970s Robert Lindsay, as revolutionary Wolfie Smith, on the screen behind Keir and Piers).

Friends remembered his passion for pro bono work, representing causes for free because he believed in them – such as the infamous ‘McLibel duo’, environmental campaigners who were sued for libel by McDonald’s after standing outside fast food outlets distributing leaflets.

He was so skint, he worked from a flat above a massage parlour in grottiest north London: ‘It was pretty busy after hours.’ The scene on screen cut to Rik Mayall haranguing his housemates on The Young Ones.

Keir’s friends were more cultured than punk rocker Vyvyan and Neil the hippy. They included Amal Alamuddin, who went on to marry George Clooney. Keir and his wife Victoria dropped in to see the Clooneys not long ago, for a lunch that turned into an afternoon and evening.

‘You got drunk with George Clooney?’ asked a visibly impressed Piers.

‘We had a lovely afternoon,’ replied the politician. He used a similar formula to avoid persistent teasing about drug use in his student years: ‘We had a good time at university.’

A photo of him in New Romantic clobber, with eyeliner and a human skull, suggests that he actually had a screamingly pretentious time at university. But hey, guys… Duran Duran were in the charts. We were all guilty.

The interview shifted tone and became absorbing when he began to talk about his parents. His father Rodney was a skilled toolmaker and lifelong Labour voter, who was devoted to his mother, Jo.

'We had a good time at university,' Starmer (centre in checked shirt) said. A photo of him in New Romantic clobber, with eyeliner and a human skull, suggests that he actually had a screamingly pretentious time at university. But hey, guys... Duran Duran were in the charts. We were all guilty

'We had a good time at university,' Starmer (centre in checked shirt) said. A photo of him in New Romantic clobber, with eyeliner and a human skull, suggests that he actually had a screamingly pretentious time at university. But hey, guys... Duran Duran were in the charts. We were all guilty

‘We had a good time at university,’ Starmer (centre in checked shirt) said. A photo of him in New Romantic clobber, with eyeliner and a human skull, suggests that he actually had a screamingly pretentious time at university. But hey, guys… Duran Duran were in the charts. We were all guilty

She suffered for decades from an auto-immune disorder, Still’s disease, and eventually lost both legs. The rawness of his lingering stress was evident several times as he remembered her.

His father, he admitted, was always difficult, and never a man to show emotion or shower praise. He told Keir he was proud of him just once, when the boy passed his 11-plus exam.

But the last few years of Mr Starmer senior’s life sounded dreadful – wracked with grief, living in an outhouse because he could not cope in his old family home. When he was dying in hospital, the outhouse burned down, destroying all his possessions. It was a bitterly tragic story.

Keir’s unresolved problems with his father were glimpsed in an anecdote about his wedding. His middle name is Rodney, after his dad – but he refused to use it and wouldn’t even have it on his wedding certificate. More trenchant, psychological questioning could have delved into this, but it was passed off as a joke.

We were left with a portrait of a principled family man, an Oxford-educated lawyer, married to another lawyer, with middle-class values and a mildly socialist streak. Remind you of anyone? Keir Starmer is ‘a pretty straight sort of guy’, as Tony Blair liked to describe himself.

With the friendly assistance of Piers, he is revealed as Blair Mark II. The question is, wouldn’t a robot be preferable?

Link hienalouca.com

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