KEIR Starmer has stepped back from his demands for Boris Johnson to resign over the partygate scandal.

The Labour leader had urged the Prime Minister to quit over allegations of rule-breaking bashes on Downing Street during lockdown.

But he now says that the war in Ukraine necessitates a united approach from the main UK political parties.

Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show if he has withdrawn his demand for Johnson to step down, Starmer said: “I do think there’s a basic issue of trust and it does seem a long time ago now we were talking about all the allegations the Prime Minister faces.

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“Of course, he is still being investigated by the Metropolitan Police. I do think there’s an issue of trust but I am very clear as leader of the opposition that when it comes to standing up to Russian aggression and standing in support of Ukraine, it's very important in the United Kingdom and in our politics that we show the world that we're united.

"And therefore whatever other challenges and frustrations and criticisms I have of the Prime Minister – and I’ve got many – on this issue there is unity and it’s very important we demonstrate that unity.”

The National: Keir Starmer speaking

Pressed further, Starmer added: “At the moment the Prime Minister is concentrating on the job in hand and we stand united as the United Kingdom on that issue.”

This weekend is the first time Starmer has addressed the partygate scandal for the first time since the Russian invasion started.

Speaking to the Scottish Labour conference on Saturday, he said the Covid-19 crisis had left every family “touched by worry or tragedy”, yet they had “followed the rules”.

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He added: “But, some – and one man in particular – felt that the rules just didn’t apply to him,” he told the Scottish Labour conference. “I refuse to accept that. I refuse to accept the pain and sacrifice of so many British families being cheapened, or laughed at.”

The Labour leader warned “trust in politics is now at an all-time low”. He continued: “That’s inevitable, when we have a government that is misleading the public and covering up their own wrongdoing to save the Prime Minister’s job.”