PM accuses Starmer of 'backtracking' over rule of six after he supported it on LBC

7 October 2020, 13:01

By Maddie Goodfellow

Boris Johnson has accused Keir Starmer of backtracking on his support for the rule of six after the Labour Leader told Nick Ferrari on LBC he supported the measures just weeks earlier.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioned whether the Labour leader supports the rule of six restrictive measures after the party abstained in a Commons vote.

Yesterday, Labour MPs abstained from voting in parliament over the rule of six, with 62 Conservative MPs joining them.

More than a dozen Tory rebels voted against the legislation, meaning the total number who backed the government was short of half of all MPs.

Mr Johnson told the Commons during PMQs: "What we are doing is a combination of national and local measures which one week he (Sir Keir Starmer) comes to this House and supports, and the next week mysteriously he decides to whisk his support away.

"He cannot even be bothered to mobilise his own benches to support something as fundamental as the rule of six, which he himself said only three weeks ago that he supported.

"In fact I think he went on the Nick Ferrari show saying 'I support the rule of six'.

"He cannot continue to have it both ways. Does he support the rule of six? Yes or no?"

Sir Keir Starmer responded that that there is a "lack of clarity" about why particular restrictions have been introduced.

He said: "For example, in the Prime Minister's own local authority Hillingdon, today there are 62 cases per 100,000 yet no local restrictions. But in 20 local areas across England, restrictions were imposed when infection rates were much lower. In Kirklees it was just 29 per 100,000.

"Local communities, Prime Minister, genuinely don't understand these differences. Can he please explain for them?"

Read more: Boris Johnson hints at suspending 'rule of six' for a 'normal' Christmas Day

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Boris Johnson replied: "I wish I could pretend that everything was going to be rosy in the Midlands or indeed in London where, alas, we are also seeing infections rise.

"That is why we need a concerted national effort, we need to follow the guidance, we need hands, face, space, get a test if you have symptoms and obey the rule of six."

However, Sir Keir added that "yes", he does support the Government's rule of six.

During 'Call Keir' on LBC last month, the Labour leader said he "does support the rule of six".

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, Mr Starmer explained: "I think that you need something simple and easily understood.

"I think that the government was slow back in February and March in facing up to the challenge it was about to face, and we can't have that again, so yes I do support it.

"The Labour party has publicly come out in support of the rule of six and as the leader of the opposition I say to everybody please follow the government advice and pease follow these rules."

When pushed by Nick on why it "must be six", the labour leader doubled down on his support.

"You can make the argument why not five or seven, but you have to go for a number backed by the scientists. They say six, and I think we should abide by that rule," he stated.

However, Mr Starmer did argue that if the government is to ask the pubic to abide by the rule of six, they must get "test and trace in order"