PMQs: Prime minister rebuked for claiming Keir Starmer ‘misled’ the Commons over track and trace

PUBLISHED: 12:40 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 24 June 2020

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

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Boris Johnson has been rebuked by the speaker of the House after claiming Sir Keir Starmer was ‘misleading’ the Commons.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle rebukes Boris Johnson at PMQs. Photograph: Parliament TV.Sir Lindsay Hoyle rebukes Boris Johnson at PMQs. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Appearing at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Boris Johnson was asked by the leader of the opposition about the government’s test, track and trace programme.

Johnson was asked why 43,000 people suspected of Covid-19 had not been contacted by NHS tracers when he erupted into frustration and tried to accuse Sir Keir of ‘misleading’ parliament over those figures.

“He’s misleading on the key point. The number of people with Covid-19 is an estimate,” Johnson shouted over the depatch box.

But his comments led to a tense exchange from speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, demanding Johnson retract the statement.

“Obviously no one misleads, and no honourable member would, whichever side they’re from, Mr Prime Minister,” he said.

Johnson swiftly changed tone, claiming Sir Keir was “inadvertently” giving the wrong impression of how many people had been contacted as part of tracing efforts.

Earlier, the opposition leader accused Johnson of “brushing aside” criticisms.

Referring to the number of people with the virus who were not contacted, Sir Keir said: “This is a big gap and the prime minister risks making mistakes he made at the beginning of the pandemic, brushing aside challenge, dashing forward, not estimating properly the risk.”

He added: “If we don’t get track-and-trace properly running then we can’t open the economy or stop infections spreading...”

Sir Keir questioned why so many people with coronavirus had not been contacted by the Health Department.

“The prime minister promised that a world-beating system would be in place by the first of June. The latest figures from yesterday’s press conference from the prime minister show that 53,000 are estimated to have Covid-19 in England,” he said.

“The latest track, trace and isolate figures show that just over 10,000 people with Covid were reached and asked to provide contact details.

“If two-thirds of those with Covid-19 are not being reached and asked to provide contact details, there’s a big problem, isn’t there?”

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