Angela Rayner takes swipe at Dominic Cummings during PMQs question on coronavirus testing

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and Boris Johnson during this week's Prime Minister's Questions.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and Boris Johnson during this week's Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Angela Rayner has taken a swipe at Dominic Cummings while scrutinising the government’s coronavirus testing system during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

Filling in for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who was forced to self-isolate, Rayner did not miss a beat in pressuring the prime minister over news people with Covid system in England were unable to get tested, or were being asked to travel to a testing centre hundreds of miles away.

When Johnson suggested the issue was due to a surge in people without symptoms being tested, Rayner replied: “Once again the prime minister is saying it is someone else’s fault. These were the government’s own figures and own targets that they failed on.

“And the next time a man with symptoms from London to Durham, it’ll probably be for the nearest Covid test.”

Johnson dismissed the accusations, saying: “We have the most thorough-going testing system anywhere in Europe and we now the number of tests have gone up from 210,000 to 240,000,” and went on to claim the UK was testing more people per 1,000 than France and Germany. 

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“In other words we are delivering exactly what we would do,” he remarked.

Rayner upped the ante. “The testing system is collapsing. When you are prime minister, you can’t keep trying to blame other people for your own incompetence. We have the highest death toll in Europe and are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world,” she argued.

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She then took a swipe at Grouse shooting being exempt from coronavirus restrictions.

“This winter we are facing down he barrel of a second wave with no plan for the looming crisis. People can’t say goodbye to their loved ones and frontline staff can’t get the tests they need.

“What was the top priority for the Covid war cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting. 

“I suppose it’s good news for the prime minister’s friend who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign and just so happens to own two Grouse estates. So, Mr prime minister, is this really your priority?”

Johnson defended the move, accusing Labour of “carping” from the sidelines and called the stories “tangential” and nothing more than “scare stories”.

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