Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson was 'tour guide' not statesman at G7 summit

16 June 2021, 16:38

By Emma Soteriou

Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of being a "tour guide" at the G7 summit instead of acting like a statesman.

It came after the seven leaders pledged to provide only 1 billion doses of the vaccine to other countries around the world.

Mr Starmer said the virus would continue to "boomerang" and cause disruption for the UK if a global plan was not put in place.

"The priority for the summit had to be a clear plan to vaccinate the world," he said during Prime Minister's Questions.

"This is not just a moral imperative, it's in our self-interest as the Delta variant makes clear.

"Without global vaccine coverage, this virus will continue to boomerang, bringing more variants and more disruption to these shores.

"The World Health Organisation has said that 11 billion doses are needed. This summit promised less than one tenth of that. No new funding, no plan to build a global vaccine capacity and no progress on patent waivers.

"The headlines of a billion doses may be what the Prime Minister wanted, but it's not what the world needed."

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Leaders came from around the world for the summit in Cornwall.
Leaders came from around the world for the summit in Cornwall. Picture: PA

He later went on to make a dig at the Prime Minister, saying: "Despite all this, I've no doubt the Prime Minister will be pleased with the G7 because it delivered everything that he wanted - some good headlines, some nice photos and even a row with the French over sausages.

"But that just shows how narrow the Prime Minister's ambition for Britain really is.

"It's why this was never going to be a Gleneagles-style success and why the Prime Minister played the role of host, but not leader, of tour guide but not statesman.

"On those terms, this G7 was a success - on any other, it was a failure."

Mr Johnson retorted: "In a long career of miserablism and defeatism, I think he's really excelled himself there.

"It was a very powerful statement after a long and difficult period in which the world came together and decided to build back better for the world."

Mr Johnson also confirmed that the vaccines donated internationally in 2022 would be in addition to the existing budget for aid, after being criticised for cuts by former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.