PMQs: Keir Starmer labels Boris Johnson an 'opportunist' after attacking Labour for 'circuit breaker' lockdown calls

Boris Johnson (L) and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons

Boris Johnson (L) and opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons - Credit:

Sir Keir Starmer has labelled Boris Johnson an "opportunist" after he tried to attack Labour for not supporting the government's latest Covid-19 strategy during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs).

Sir Keir accused Johnson of ignoring Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advice on introducing a nationwide two-week "circuit breaker" lockdown put forward on September 21.

The prime minster hit back, accusing the Labour leader of wanting to close pubs and schools in areas across the country where the infection rate was low.

"That's what he wants to do and yet he done nothing last night in the areas where the incidence is high. He says one thing at 5 o'clock about a national lockdown but when it came to a vote in the House of Commons to impose even more stringent measures, he failed to turn up," the prime minister shouted.

Sir Keir, taking to the despatch box, responded: "Mr Speaker, I know that for someone who has been an opportunist all his life that this is difficult to understand."

MPs erupted into laughter as Sir Keir continued: "Having read and considered the SAGE advice, I have genuinely concluded that the circuit break is in the national interest. 

"It's the failure of the prime minister's strategy which means tougher measures are now unavoidable. That's SAGE's view.

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"SAGE has advised that a circuit breaker should be introduced."

Johnson hit back: “The plan is the plan that [Sir Keir] supported on Monday. And the whole point is to seize this moment now to avoid the misery of another national lockdown into which he wants to go head-long by delivering a regional solution.”

Johnson added that “opportunism, I’m afraid, is the name of the game for the party opposite”.

Sir Keir quipped that following the advice “is now apparently opportunistic”, adding he could not think of a single scientist who backs the prime minister’s strategy.

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