PMQs: Boris Johnson is a 'super spreader of confusion', Starmer says

21 July 2021, 13:13 | Updated: 21 July 2021, 13:15

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson has been accused of being a "super spreader of confusion" by Sir Keir Starmer.

The Labour leader warned that the country is "heading for a summer of chaos" as he grilled Mr Johnson in the final Prime Minister's Questions clash before the summer recess.

Initially pointing to the "inconsistency" of the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak U-turning over self-isolation on Sunday, Sir Keir then listed the confusion caused in the days following.

"We had a completely unclear announcement on Monday about exemptions (for getting 'pinged' by the NHS Covid app), contradictory statements all day yesterday, now we seem to be back to the confused policy of Monday," he said.

"How on earth are businesses meant to plan when the prime minister keeps chopping and changing like this?"

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The Labour leader added: "I can't believe that the prime minister doesn't see the irony of him spending 'Freedom Day' locked in isolation and announcing plans for a vaccine ID card - I remember when he used to say he'd eat an ID card if he ever had to produce one, but now he's introducing them.

"When it comes to creating confusion, the prime minister is a super spreader."

Sir Keir also highlighted the mixed messages over Covid vaccine passports.

He asked: "Why is it okay to go to a nightclub for the next six weeks without proof of a vaccine or test, and then from September it will only be okay to get into a nightclub if you've got a vaccine ID card?"

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Mr Johnson replied by accusing the leader of the opposition of trying to "score cheap political points".

"Everybody can see we have to wait until the end of September, by which time it is only fair to the younger generation - when they will all have got the two jabs - before we consider something like asking people to be double-jabbed before they can go into a nightclub.

"That's blindingly obvious to everyone, it's common sense."

The prime minister said it would also "encourage" younger people to get jabs.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir accused the government of being "all over the place" on self-isolation rules.

He said: "Yesterday his business minister said the app was an advisory tool only, another government minister and, I kid you not, said yesterday the app is just to allow you to make informed decisions. What on earth does that mean?"

Sir Keir added: "Of course the prime minister and the chancellor spent the weekend trying to dodge isolation altogether. The British people are trying to follow the rules, how can they when his ministers keep making them up as they go along?"

Mr Johnson replied: "No... isolation is a very important part of our armoury against Covid. We're going forward, as everybody knows, to a new system on 16 August based on testing but in the meantime when you're advised to isolate to protect others and to protect your family against the spread of the disease then you should do so."

He added: "And of course even more important than the isolation campaign is of course the vaccination campaign. Three million people of the 18-30 group have still to get one."