Keir Starmer has tried to reveal a little more about himself, confessing that he has broken the “never kiss a Tory rule” and that he is not ashamed.

The Labour party leader said he was “not tribal” when it came to personal relationships and politics because he entered the political scene relatively late in life. Speaking to Times Radio, he suggested only people in the political bubble were focused on maintaining division.

Asked about other Labour figures who wear “never kissed a Tory” badges, Starmer said: “I’m afraid I’ve broken that rule. I’m not tribal. I’m on very good terms with many Tory MPs. I’m not ashamed about it and I’ve got very good friends who are Tories and they’ve been very, very good friends of mine for a very, very long time, and long may that last.”

Over the summer, Lucy Powell, a member of Starmer’s shadow cabinet, faced criticism after she was pictured wearing a T-shirt with the phrase “never kissed a Tory” at Manchester pride.

The Tory MP Sara Britcliffe complained that the phrase created a sense of “us versus them”, while James Cleverly, then the education secretary, joked that if Powell had asked nicely then “one [Tory] will say yes eventually”.

Starmer described his attempts to keep life “as normal as possible” for his family and said he did his best to spend time with his children.

He said: “I don’t want to be the man in 10 years’ time saying ‘I wish I’d spent more time with my children’. I’ve got a rule of a hard stop on a Friday at 6pm. I won’t be doing any work; I’ll be at home.”

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