Keir Starmer calls for a ‘national consensus’ on coronavirus exit strategy

PUBLISHED: 09:47 05 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 05 May 2020

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: PA/Dominic Lipinski

PA Wire/PA Images

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on a “national consensus” towards plans to get the country out of the coronavirus lockdown.

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Sir Keir urged Boris Johnson to work with Labour and others opposition parties to devise an exit strategy.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB): “I’ve been calling for an exit strategy discussion for some considerable period because these are the things we need to discuss.”

The Labour leader insisted any exit plan should prioritise workers’ safety, adding that wearing face masks may be part of an eventual strategy.

He said: “I sense that people are really worried about the lifting of the lockdown. They’re really worried about going back to work. They need a high level of reassurance.”

He also called on the government to listen to trade union concerns over draft plans issued by Downing Street on how to ease lockdown restrictions.

He said: “The point that trade unions have raised is safety at work and there was a consultation document the government put out last weekend which was pretty vague, and it needs strengthening.

“That’s why one of the principles I’ve set out today is a national safety standard.

“I think people will want to know if I’m going back to work, is it a safe environment, what’s being done about social distancing, what are the hand-washing facilities, if I need protective equipment am I going to get it?”

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) - representing more than fifty unions - said the government’s latest suggestions for a return-to-work plan failed to ensure workers had access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The federation said the advice to businesses on how to enforce social distancing measures was also ambiguous.

TUC deputy secretary Paul Nowak told GMB presenters it was essential the government gets its exit strategy messaging right.

He said: “I think it’s right the government are talking about a return to work but they’ve got to do it in the right way.”

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