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News | Published June 03 2020

Covid-19: Labour leader says PM is mismanaging pandemic

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told The Guardian that prime minister Boris Johnson is mismanaging the Covid-19 pandemic by easing lockdown restrictions too quickly and is putting the country at risk of a second upsurge in cases.

Sir Keir suggested that Johnson was “winging it” by choosing to reopen schools and non-essential shops, along with allowing individuals who have been shielding to venture outdoors.

He called on the prime minister to “get a grip” of the situation and restore public faith in the government’s strategy.

Sir Keir said: "After a week or more of mismanagement, I'm deeply concerned the government has made a difficult situation 10 times worse. We've called for an exit strategy. What we appear to have got is an exit without a strategy.

"Like many people across the country, there is a growing concern the government is now winging it.”

The Labour leader admitted that he wanted to see the re-opening of the economy and a pathway for businesses to regain momentum, but he worried about the pace of restrictions being eased in England compared to the wider UK.

Sir Keir also suggested that the advice for vulnerable individuals had been changed without giving notice to public health chiefs, and that trust in the government’s approach had been compromised by the PM’s decision not to dispense with his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, who was accused of breaking lockdown rules.

He said: "At precisely the time when there should have been maximum trust in the government, confidence has collapsed.

"I am putting the prime minister on notice that he has got to get a grip and restore public confidence in the government's handling of the epidemic. If we see a sharp rise in the R rate, the infection rate, or a swathe of local lockdowns, responsibility for that falls squarely at the door of Number 10."

Sir Keir’s words came ahead of Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, where the Labour leader is due to challenge the PM.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has insisted that the easing of restrictions is in line with scientific advice and that the government was proceeding with the utmost caution.

Home secretary Priti Patel is due to address the Commons on Wednesday to lay out the government’s plans for a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all new arrivals in the UK, a move which has been met with backlash from MPs and the travel and hospitality sectors.


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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
@
June 03 2020

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