Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of being 'all mouth and no trousers' over handling of P&O Ferries
Sir Keir raised the mass sacking of P&O Ferries workers, asking: "What’s the point of his (Boris Johnson’s) Government?"
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson over his handling of the P&O Ferries mass redundancy, accusing him of being "all mouth and no trousers".
Sir Keir raised the mass sacking of P&O Ferries workers, asking “what’s the point of his (Boris Johnson’s) Government?”
The attack came after Mr Johnson failed to legislate banning fire and rehire.
He went on to label the Prime Minister’s approach as “half-arsed”.
Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The most notable practitioners of fire and rehire are, of course, the Labour Party themselves. But he may be interested to know we will be vindicating the rights of British workers, UK employees under UK law but the law that P&O, the company themselves, are allegedly relying on was introduced as a result of EU directives.”
Sir Keir highlighted that Mr Johnson ordered Tory MPs to abstain on a Labour motion to ban fire and rehire, adding sacked P&O workers did not want new jobs but their old jobs back.
He said: “They don’t want a Prime Minister hoisting the white flag, they want him to fight for their livelihoods, 82,000 seafarers in this country.
"P&O’s behaviour comes off a string of fired and rehired cases.
"Profitable companies threatening to fire workers unless the take a payout.
"The PM keeps telling us just how opposed he is to fire and rehire, but as we saw on Monday, he doesn’t have the backbone to ban it.
"Whilst he sits on his hands, more and more workers are having their lives thrown upside down by this appalling practice.
"What good is a Prime Minister to them, who’s all mouth and no trousers?"
Mr Johnson said: “P&O plainly aren’t going to get away with it any more than any other company that treat its employees in that scandalous way.”
His statement came as the company’s chief executive issued an apology for the impact of the decision to sack the staff without notice.
Peter Hebblethwaite said he understood the “anger and shock” about the loss of jobs.
His statement came amid continued protests by unions and workers and followed confirmation that he will appear before MPs on Thursday to be questioned about the dismissals.
He said: “I want to say sorry to the people affected and their families for the impact it’s had on them, and also to the 2,200 people who still work for P&O and will have been asked a lot of difficult questions about this.
“Over the last week, I’ve been speaking face-to-face to seafarers and their partners. They’ve lost their jobs and there is anger and shock and I completely understand.
“We needed fundamental change to make us viable. This was an incredibly difficult decision that we wrestled with but once we knew it was the only way to save the business, we had to act.
“All other routes led to the closure of P&O Ferries. I wish there was another way and I’m sorry.”