Tories called ‘truly pathetic’ for post showing Starmer being cheered by Kim Jong Un

A Tory advert suggesting dictators are looking forward to a Labour government has been branded “shameful and demeaning” by the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Crossbench peer Lord Carlile said the Conservatives “should be ashamed of themselves” for publishing a photoshopped image of Sir Keir Starmer being cheered on by North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

The party’s official X account shared the image, in which the North Korean leader is flanked by Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.

The Tory attack ad was posted on Twitter with the caption ‘they’re watching’ (Conservatives)
The Tory attack ad was posted on Twitter with the caption ‘they’re watching’ (Conservatives)

All three dictators are cheering on the Labour leader, with the image apparently suggesting the trio hope Sir Keir wins the 4 July general election, an outcome which polls suggest is highly likely.

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Lord Carlile told The Independent: “It’s shameful and demeaning nonsense. The Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves for stooping to those depths. It demeans the reputation of politics.”

Crossbench peer Lord Carlile said the Conservatives had ‘demeaned the reputation of politics’ (Rex Features)
Crossbench peer Lord Carlile said the Conservatives had ‘demeaned the reputation of politics’ (Rex Features)

Former Tory minister Alistair Burt said the post was “disgraceful”.

And Labour’s candidate for Windsor said the advert was “truly pathetic”. Pavitar Kaur Mann added: “I’d much rather the defence of our country being in the hands of someone who has public service built into his core than a party that has decimated our armed services and takes money from Russian oligarchs.”

They were among a slew of critics of the post, which many said was an indication of the lack of coherence of the Conservative campaign.

The party is more than 20 points behind Labour in the polls, with forecasts repeatedly pointing to a historic landslide on 4 July.

And just hours before the Conservative advert was posted online, work and pensions secretary Mel Stride conceded Labour is heading towards “the largest majority virtually in the history of this country”.

Mr Sunak doubled down on the post, saying Sir Keir would send "exactly the wrong message" to the UK's adversaries, such as Russia and North Korea.

Speaking to reporters in East Anglia, the Prime Minister repeated his concerns of an "axis of authoritarian states, including Russia, Iran, North Korea and China, who are increasingly acting together in a way that threatens our values, our interests and our security".

He touted a promise to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade which Sir Keir has not matched. “If Keir Starmer is elected, one of the first things he will do is head off to a Nato summit having cut British defence spending from the planned increases that I've announced, and I think that sends exactly the wrong message," Mr Sunak said.

The X post also came just a day after Sir Keir Starmer praised Rishi Sunak’s cross-party approach on national security and defence issues.

During an LBC phone-in on Tuesday, Sir Keir was asked what, if anything, he admired about the prime minister.

The Labour leader said: “On the day he became prime minister, he insisted on picking up the phone to me - which he did not have to.

“In a personal one-to-one, he was running late for time and was really busy, he wanted to establish contact and say that on things like Ukraine and national security, whatever other arguments we have in other parts of the forest, we will work together and share information.

“And to be fair, I have had pretty high level security briefings on Ukraine and other issues from him and his team.”

Mr Sunak has been urged by cabinet members to launch more personal attacks on Sir Keir to make a dent in Labour’s poll lead, with one telling him to “go for the jugular”.