PMQs: Keir Starmer ratchets up pressure on Boris Johnson to introduce 'circuit breaker' nationwide lockdown

Sir Keir Starmer (L) and prime minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions

Sir Keir Starmer (L) and prime minister Boris Johnson during Prime Minister's Questions - Credit:

Sir Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to impose a nationwide "circuit breaker" lockdown after criticising the government's three-tiered system.

In a turbulent session of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), Sir Keir claimed the prime minister's latest lockdown approach was ineffective.

"Yesterday, the prime minister produced heat maps of the country showing infection rates going up in all ages across all regions, especially in those areas that have had Tier-2 restrictions for weeks if not months moving into Tier-3."

"Now, if they're moving into Tier-3 then Tier-2 hasn't worked because if Tier-2 worked then they should be going into Tier-1.

"So Tier-2 goes to Tier-3, Tier-3 has no end because there is no prospect, or confidence, of the R rate coming below 1."

He added: "We now have a stark choice... carry on with the prime minister's approach which will lead to weeks and week and months and months of prolonged agony in all constituencies for millions of people in Tier-2 and 3 with no exit, or put in place a two- to three-week circuit break to break the cycle and bring the virus back under control.

"With half-term this Thursday, this might be the last opportunity this prime minister has to put into place an effective circuit break.

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"Will he act in the public interest and take an opportunity to introduce a circuit break this Friday?"

Johnson shot back saying his government would do "whatever it takes" to get the virus under control "with or without" Labour's support.

He said: "I've explained why I don't believe his policy is the right one for the country because it would involve closing schools. It would involve shuttering businesses, with all the psychological and emotional damage that lockdown brings.

"We want to go on with our common sense approach which is a local and regional approach, keeping our kids in school, keeping our economy moving because that is how to get the whole of our country through this together."

Sir Keir broke ranks to criticise the government last week and called for a national lockdown to curb the rise in infections across the UK.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: "There’s no longer time to give this prime minister the benefit of the doubt.

“The government’s plan simply isn’t working. Another course is needed.

“That’s why I am calling for a two to three-week circuit break in England in line with Sage’s recommendation.”

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