Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Keir Starmer says UK should be 'first in the world to get country vaccinated'
5 January 2021, 19:05 | Updated: 5 January 2021, 20:03
Sir Keir Starmer has called on the UK to "be the first in the world to get our country vaccinated" as he urged the government to use the new lockdown "to establish a massive, immediate, round the clock programme."
Speaking in a televised address to the nation, the Labour leader has thrown his support behind the new tough Covid measures for England, saying his party will "support the lockdown, vote for it in Parliament and join in this national effort."
"Whatever our quarrels with the Government and with the Prime Minister - the country now needs us to come together," he stated.
"The virus is out of control. Infections are rising sharply. More people are in hospital. And, tragically, more people are losing their loved ones.
"At this darkest of moments, we need a new national effort to re-kindle the spirt of last March."
He also urged the government to use the lockdown to "deliver millions of vaccine doses a week by the end of the month in every village and town, every high street and every GP surgery."
His comments come just a day after the Prime Minister made his own address to the nation in which he enforced tough new Covid measures across the country.
Mr Starmer also took the opportunity to question government decisions during the pandemic, saying there are "serious questions for the government to answer."
He asked: "Why did they not act sooner? Why - after £22 billion of taxpayers’ money - is the testing system still not working? Why were families given so little time to plan for childcare and for schools closing?
"And why - once again - have businesses and millions of working people not been given the support they need?
"We’ll keep asking those questions and fighting for proper support for businesses and families," he said.
The Labour leader also acknowledged the struggles ahead for the country whilst speaking about "hope for the future".
"This is now a race between the virus and the vaccine. And if we pull together as a nation, we can win. I pledge to do everything I can to help in this national mission.
"We were the first country in the world to get the vaccine. Let’s be the first in the world to get our country vaccinated.
"I know the next few weeks will be really hard for families who long to be together again. But we will get through this. Because of our scientists, the dedication of our key workers and the strength of the British people.
Finish his address, Mr Starmer told the nation: "We will recover. We’ll rebuild. We’ll see each other again. And then we can forge the better future I know is possible."