Spouting in a meeting with Conservative backbenchers, the prime minister reportedly criticised Starmer for living in Islington. He said: “You can take the lawyer out of Islington but you can’t take Islington out of the lawyer.”
The prime minister recently sold a £3.75million, five-story, Grade II listed townhouse in Islington which he shared with his ex-wife Marina Wheeler for 10 years, between 2009 and 2019.
Wheeler, for her part, is a top Queen’s Counsel lawyer, specialising in human rights. She now lives in East London but, of course, you can’t take the Islington out of the lawyer.
Meanwhile, Keir Starmer lives in Kentish Town, which is around 2.5 miles from Islington. He represents the London constituency Holborn & St Pancras, which is also not Islington.
Johnson’s comments came in the same meeting in which – in an Ayn Rand like frenzy - he said the UK had been successful with its vaccine rollout because of “capitalism” and “greed”. He later asked MPs to disregard the comment, and it was duly splashed across the news.
And it is not the first time the Eton and Oxford-educated politician has attempted to associate Starmer with “posh” Islington – an area with a 47 per cent child poverty rate.
In December 2020 during a Prime Minister’s Questions session, Johnson said it was nice to see Starmer from “his vantage point of exile in Islington” while the opposition leader self-isolated due to coronavirus exposure. Starmer quickly reminded the Prime Minister that he did not live in Islington.
With responsibility for the whole of the UK, Johnson should be forgiven for not having a comprehensive understanding of the minutiae of the capital’s geography. It’s not like he was the mayor of London or anything.