The Labour Party leader stood in the Commons on Thursday to confirm he would withdraw comments made during Prime Minister’s Questions after the Government set the record straight. Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of taking a swipe at the BBC during a private meeting of Conservative MPs over the broadcaster’s coverage of the war in Ukraine compared to reports of the Government’s new asylum process. Sir Keir said he would withdraw the comments after Boris Johnson’s team clarified the Prime Minister did not question the BBC’s conduct but had rather expressed his frustration at criticism of the new scheme.
Addressing colleagues in the Commons, the Labour leader said: “The Prime Minister’s comments on Tuesday night to his backbencher were briefed to journalists by a spokesperson.
“Those comments were reasonably interpreted by several media outlets, including the Daily Telegraph, as being criticisms of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the BBC for their comments and coverage of Ukraine.
“Government ministers were out on broadcast rounds yesterday morning and didn’t seek to correct that interpretation.
“But since then, the Government has corrected the record and said the Prime Minister’s comments only referred to the Archbishop and not the BBC.
“So I’m more than happy to echo that correction and withdraw my comments of yesterday.”
Reports emerged on Wednesday claiming the Prime Minister had hit out at the BBC for reporting more heavily on criticism of his new Rwanda asylum processing scheme than they have on the war in Ukraine.
At a private meeting of Tory MPs, the Prime Minister was said to have attacked the BBC and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, claiming they had been “less vociferous” about condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Mr Johnson denied criticising the BBC over its coverage of the Ukraine war after Sir Keir seized on reports of the meeting.
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