Labour hits back at No 10 claims Keir Starmer is 'shameless opportunist'

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to Boris Johnson

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to Boris Johnson - Credit: PA

Labour has hit back at anonymous sources in Downing Street who claimed Keir Starmer was a "shameless opportunist" for calling for a "circuit breaker" short lockdown to curb coronavirus cases.

Starmer used a press conference on Tuesday to tell the nation: “Three things are now clear: the government has not got a credible plan to slow infections. It has lost control of the virus. And it’s no longer following the scientific advice.”

The opposition leader said a two to three-week national lockdown over the October half term was needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.

Rejecting the plan, a senior government source said Boris Johnson would not be following the advice, saying: “Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic".

“He says he wants a national lockdown but he’s refusing to back targeted restrictions in areas that need them most,” the source added.

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Rachel Reeves, addressing the criticism, responded: “Keir Starmer is showing real leadership and following the science.

“It is a shame the Government is not doing that.

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“It is not too late for them to change course, it is not too late for them to do that.

“We urge them, plead with them, to do that because we need to get control of the virus, protect the NHS and get a grip of our failed Test and Trace system.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that financial support should be “put in place so businesses will not be ruined” during any circuit-break lockdown, which the shadow cabinet member argued could help get the R rate back below one.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth added: “Labour is listening to the government’s own scientists who have warned that the path the prime minister has taken will not work.”

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