Sir Keir Starmer tells Boris Johnson 'get a grip' on coronavirus ahead of PMQs

3 June 2020, 05:59

Sir Keir Starmer has warned Boris Johnson to "get a grip" on coronavirus
Sir Keir Starmer has warned Boris Johnson to "get a grip" on coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Sir Keir Starmer has told Boris Johnson to "get a grip on coronavirus" or risk having a second wave in the UK.

The Labour leader made the comments ahead of the pair going head-to-head at Prime Minister's Questions, the first since the Prime Minister's aide Dominic Cummings was accused of breaking lockdown rules.

In an interview with The Guardian, Sir Keir said Mr Johnson "has got to get a grip" and expressed concerns that the Government is now "winging it" when it comes to relaxing lockdown.

He added: "I am putting the Prime Minister on notice that he has got to get a grip and restore public confidence in the Government's handling of the epidemic.

"If we see a sharp rise in the R rate, the infection rate, or a swathe of local lockdowns, responsibility for that falls squarely at the door of No 10.

READ MORE: Foreigners entering the UK could be deported if they disobey quarantine rules

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Boris Johnson will face Sir Keir at PMQ's later today
Boris Johnson will face Sir Keir at PMQ's later today. Picture: PA

"We all know the public have made huge sacrifices. This mismanagement of the last few weeks is the responsibility of the Government."

Sir Keir added: "My (worry) is that after a week or more of mismanagement, I'm deeply concerned the Government has made a difficult situation 10 times worse. There is a growing concern the government is now winging it.

"At precisely the time when there should have been maximum trust in the Government, confidence has collapsed."

In response to Sir Keir's comments, a Number 10 spokesperson said now was time "to look to the future and not the past".

They added: "Our focus is on helping the country recover safely from Coronavirus and restoring the livelihoods of millions of people across the country.

"Now is the time to look to the future and not the past, as we continue to fight this virus while taking cautious steps to ease restrictions. 

"The PM looks forward to hearing any concrete proposals Labour has to offer."

Meanwhile, new quarantine restrictions on travellers arriving in the UK will be set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday, including requiring the majority of visitors to Britain to self-isolate for 14 days.

The plans - which come into force on June 8 - will see people arriving in the UK told to isolate for 14 days to prevent coronavirus cases being introduced from overseas.

A breach of self-isolation in England would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice or potential prosecution and unlimited fine, while devolved administrations will set out their own enforcement action

Priti Patel has said foreign visitors who disobey quarantine laws will be deported
Priti Patel has said foreign visitors who disobey quarantine laws will be deported. Picture: PA

The Home Office said removal from the country would be considered "as a last resort" for foreign nationals who refuse to comply with the order to stay at a single residence.

The quarantine plan has been condemned by businesses in the travel sector and there have been calls from senior Tories for the plan to be scrapped in favour of the so-called air bridge solution.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the Government is still looking at the prospect of air bridges between the UK and other countries, creating specific exemptions from the quarantine rules.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ms Patel said: "We will all suffer if we get this wrong and that is why it is crucial that we introduce these measures now.

"Let's not throw away our progress in tackling this deadly virus. We owe it to the thousands who have died."

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The measures will be kept under review - with the first on June 29 - and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was hope that people could go on holiday later in the summer.

He said: "We are working with the transport industry to see how we can introduce agreements with other countries when safe to do so, so we can go abroad and tourists can come here."

Meanwhile a YouGov poll of 1,565 people found that 63 per cent were in favour of the quarantine plan for travellers arriving in the UK.