Sir Keir Starmer sought to open up clear blue water with Boris Johnson yesterday…by taking a swipe at Peppa Pig World.
The Labour leader set himself on a collision course with both Mr Johnson and the much-loved animated animal by branding Peppa’s theme park ‘dreadful’.
Father-of-two Sir Keir also dropped a hint that he was no fan of the children’s character’s TV output, declaring wearily: ‘I’ve seen no end of Peppa Pig programmes.’
His comments come just days after the Prime Minister chose the Confederation of British Industry conference to reveal his admiration for all things Peppa.
After taking his baby son Wilfred to the theme park in the New Forest, Mr Johnson said he ‘loved it’ and declared: ‘Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place.’
In an interview yesterday, ex-barrister Sir Keir revealed that he too had savoured the delights of following his children round the venue.
But in comments apparently designed to present himself as ‘serious’, in contrast to ‘frivolous’ Boris, the Labour leader gave the experience the thumbs down.
The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) set himself on a collision course with both Boris Johnson and the much-loved animated animal by branding Peppa’s theme park ‘dreadful’
After taking his baby son Wilfred to the theme park in the New Forest (pictured), Mr Johnson said he ‘loved it’ and declared: ‘Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place.’
Sir Keir branded Peppa Pig World (pictured) as ‘dreadful’ in an interview
He told The Times: ‘I have been to Peppa Pig World, of course I have’, before declaring: ‘It’s dreadful.’
But Sir Keir did admit that ‘Peppa Pig is hugely successful’ and even conceded that: ‘Our daughter was absolutely in love with Peppa Pig for a very long time.’
He stressed, however, that the Prime Minister’s paean of praise at the CBI event was proof the Tory Government was not serious, declaring: ‘This comes back to our central division between us and the Tories – you do need serious government.’
He also claimed Labour was ‘absolutely’ the party of Middle England, despite colleagues’ concerns that the party should have done better in last week’s by-election in Tory-held Old Bexley and Sidcup.
At first, the Labour leader’s office decided not to comment further on the PM’s Peppa comments – presumably to avoid more upset to children aged three and over for whom Peppa, not Keir, is a household name.
But later, a source close to Sir Keir joked that this wasn’t an age group that was vital to his bid to evict Mr Johnson from No 10.
She said: ‘Don’t let it be said Keir isn’t a savvy politician – he knows the coalition of voters he needs and it’s not the under-eights.’
MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, has declared in an interview that he thinks Peppa Pig World is ‘dreadful’.
He has plainly found his daughter’s enjoyment of the harmless cartoon figure hard to endure.
How strange that a man who seeks to lead the nation should be so contemptuous of such a popular and well-loved character, and of a successful British business.
Even odder is Sir Keir’s scorn for Boris Johnson’s references to Peppa in a recent speech to the Confederation of British Industry.
If the Opposition Leader thinks this is a sign that the Prime Minister is not serious, how does he explain that the animated porker was invited, in 2010, to take part in Labour’s Election campaign?
She was scheduled to appear alongside frontbencher Yvette Cooper, a favourite of Sir Keir.
How glad Peppa must now be that she saved her impartial bacon by pulling out at the last minute.
The source could have added – but didn’t – that Labour might just have captured the votes of weary parents forced to traipse round after their offspring in raptures at the wonders of Peppa Pig World.
However, not for the first time it appeared that Boris Johnson – or at least, his wife Carrie – reckoned Labour was off down another electoral cul-de-sac.
Last week, Mrs Johnson took Wilfred to the Peppa Pig musical at London’s Haymarket Theatre, where Peppa apparently enjoys ‘her best day ever’ with little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, plus Miss Rabbit and Gerald Giraffe.
Labour MPs were not taking bets last night that ‘serious’ Sir Keir would be buying a ticket for the musical any time soon.
And Tory MPs privately joked that ‘dull’ Sir Keir’s ‘downer’ on Peppa Pig was all to do with his attempt to neutralise the ‘charisma gap’ with Mr Johnson by repeatedly claiming: ‘The joke’s not funny any more.’
Last month, James Mancey, operations director at Paultons Park, where Peppa Pig World is based, said the attraction was ‘delighted’ Mr Johnson had attended.
However, yesterday, the company decided to maintain a dignified silence on Sir Keir’s remarks.
Tory MP Alexander Stafford joked last night: ‘It’s funny that Sir Keir Starmer doesn’t like Peppa Pig World because just like Peppa, the leader of the Labour Party lives in a make-believe world with little connection with reality.
‘Then again, I suppose it’s predictable Sir Keir doesn’t connect with such a great British success story.’
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