Labour will continue with its controversial attacks on Rishi Sunak by turning attention to government “failures” over the cost of living crisis.
The Labour leader has described the prime minister as the “chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest” as both parties gear up for the local elections next month.
In a letter to his shadow cabinet, Sir Keir Starmer said voters “must know that Rishi Sunak’s fingerprints are all over their struggling household budgets”.
In the memo, seen by Sky News, the Labour leader wrote: “With 24 days left until polling day we must continue to focus relentlessly on exposing the failures of 13 years of this divided and weak Conservative government and demonstrate how we would deliver for working people across the country.”
He added: “Rishi Sunak is the chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest and of the government’s failure to get a grip of the economy and get growth going.”
He accused Mr Sunak of “supplying the touchpaper for another Conservative government to blow up the economy” as chancellor and then continuing in No 10 to “make choices which loaded the costs on to working people”.
Sir Keir’s intervention comes after Labour came under fire for a series of adverts which critics have branded “gutter politics”.
The first ad, which was issued on Thursday, read: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t.”
It cited data from the Ministry of Justice showing that 4,500 adults convicted of sex acts on children avoided a prison sentence since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Despite the ensuing backlash that came from across the political spectrum, Labour issued a second tweet which accused Mr Sunak of being soft on gun grime and a third which suggested he didn’t think thieves should be punished.
Labour officials have been bullish over the weekend about the effectiveness of their ads, with briefings suggesting they would intensify their efforts despite the criticism.
One Labour source told Sky News: “It’s mission accomplished – we’ve dominated the news agenda and started a serious conversation about the Tories appalling record on crime.”
And in his letter to his top team, Sir Keir said the focus of their local election campaigning should move from crime to the cost of living.
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Labour tweets second attack ad against Rishi Sunak despite ‘gutter politics’ row
The Labour leader also reiterated directly to his colleagues that he “makes no apologies at all” for the ads despite the backlash.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Sir Keir said he “stand[s] by every word Labour has said on the subject, no matter how squeamish it might make some feel”.
Labour is hoping to reap the benefits of a depressed economy in the 4 May local elections in England, as the Tories continue to struggle in the polls.
However, a new voting intention poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies showed that Labour is on 44%, a decrease of 1% since last week, while the Conservatives are on 30%, an increase of 2%.
It marks Labour’s narrowest lead over the Tories since Mr Sunak became prime minister in October.
On Tuesday Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves will highlight the party’s pledge to help more first-time buyers on to the housing ladder on a campaign visit to Brighton.
New analysis from the party shows that first-time buyers face a nearly £500 per month hike in mortgage bills in the wake of Liz Truss’s ill-fated mini-budget and interest rate rises.
The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.