Boris Johnson claims Keir Starmer has played 'party politics' over lockdown

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer at PMQs - Credit: Parliament Live

Boris Johnson has accused Labour of playing "party politics" over a second lockdown, despite the fact the prime minister used the idea to beat Keir Starmer when he proposed national action. 

The Labour leader used his time at the despatch box at Prime Minister's Questions to ask if the PM understands the “human cost” of the delay in imposing a second lockdown to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

He told the Commons: “On September 21, when the government scientific advisers indicated the circuit break would bring the virus back under control, the number of people that day who tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 was 11.

“The prime minister ignored that advice. On Monday, 42 days later, the number of people who tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 was 397.

“That’s a staggering 35 fold increase. Does the prime minister understand the human cost of his delay in acting?”

Johnson, however, claimed his policy had been working, despite having to drop the plan for national measures.

He said: “I think I speak for many honourable members across this House when I say I don’t think any government would want to impose these measures lightly, or any parliament would want to impose these measures lightly on the people of this country.

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“And it was always right to pursue a local and a regional approach as our scientific advisers said and I’ll tell you why Mr Speaker, because that approach, that regional approach, actually was showing signs of working and still is showing signs of working.”

But Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted “some basic honesty” from Boris Johnson over the prime minister’s approach.

He called for answers on the strategy, adding: “If the infection rate – we’ve got to look the public in the eye – is still going up on December 2, it is madness to come out of the system back to the tiered system, when we know the one thing the tiered system can’t cope with is an R rate above one.”

Dodging the question, Johnson instead said it was time to end the "point-scoring" and "party politics" to make a success of the second lockdown.

"What we now need to do is come together as a nation, briefly if we can, to put aside party political wrangling and point-scoring and work together, as I think he will tonight, to support this package, to get the R down and allow us to go forward in a different way."

One Twitter user said it was an "open goal" for Starmer to respond to.

"When Johnson said we must put aside party politics and work together he failed to confront Johnson with Nadine Dorries' disgusting performance in the Commons yesterday when asked to do exactly that".

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