Leader of Bolton Council demands apology from Labour Leader Keir Starmer

The Tory leader of Bolton Council has said he is "absolutely disgusted" that Sir Keir Starmer "misrepresented" him. Credit: PA

The Tory leader of Bolton Council has said he is "absolutely disgusted" that Sir Keir Starmer "misrepresented" him in the Commons by claiming he supported a circuit-breaker to control coronavirus.

David Greenhalgh said it was "absolutely untrue" that he backed the proposal for a short nationwide lockdown - which Labour is calling for - and demanded an apology from the opposition leader.

Sir Keir made the comments during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons on Wednesday.

He said: "(Boris Johnson) probably hasn't noticed that this morning, the council leaders in Greater Manchester that he's just quoted, including the mayor and including the Conservative leader of Bolton Council, have said in a press statement that they support a circuit-break above Tier 3 restrictions. Keep up Prime Minister."

Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Credit: PA

Mr Greenhalgh was among Greater Manchester leaders to sign a statement on the new coronavirus three-tier system, which included a line saying "a number of leaders" in the region supported a national circuit-break.

But he stressed he did not support such measures, telling the PA news agency: "I really don't know if it is just poor briefing or mischief-making but either is pretty reprehensible and I want an immediate retraction and an apology."

He said he wanted the apology to be made in the Commons or at least publicly.

"He has done it in one of the most public arenas that there can possibly be and he needs to now retract it and say that he misrepresented me," the councillor said.

A spokesman for Sir Keir told journalists after PMQs: "The Conservative leader of Bolton Council signed that statement this morning which confirmed that 'a number of leaders in Greater Manchester believe a national circuit-break, with the required financial support, would be a preferable option'.

"If that's not his position, it is for him to say so." 

A Number 10 source said Sir Keir should return to the Commons and correct the record.

"This is further evidence Labour is playing politics with the crisis," the source said.