Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson 'chose to ignore' Covid-19 alarm bells

20 December 2020, 11:14 | Updated: 20 December 2020, 11:52

By Kate Buck

Sir Keir Starmer has issued a scathing response to Boris Johnson's handling of the festive season, saying he waited until 11th hour to halt Christmas plans.

In a press conference the morning after the Prime Minister announced brutal limits to Christmas plans, the Labour leader said: “It was blatantly obvious last week that the free for all at Christmas was a risk too far.”

He added: Mr Johnson had done "what he always does", and "dismissed the challenge, ruffled his hair".

On the claim that the government only learnt about the new strain of the virus this week he said: “The PM’s claim this is all down to a new strain of the virus they’ve only just learned about doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Sir Keir Starmer has issued a scathing response to Boris Johnson's handling of the festive season
Sir Keir Starmer has issued a scathing response to Boris Johnson's handling of the festive season. Picture: PA

“The new strain was actually first spotted in September.. alarm bells have been ringing for weeks but the PM chose to ignore them.”

“It’s an act of gross negligence by a prime minister who is once again behind the curve."

On what needs to be done, Sir Keir said Mr Johnson needs to “show political leadership” and "there can be no more dither and delay.”

Sir Keir also asked for Mr Johnson to apologise to the public for the way the latest coronavirus restrictions had been handled.

The Labour leader told an online press conference: "I think the Prime Minister should apologise. This is not just one mistake when he has otherwise got things right. It is the same mistake over and over again.

"At the heart of the problem here is a Prime Minister who simply doesn't want to be unpopular and therefore won't take the tough decisions that are necessary, until he is forced into them at the 11th hour.

"We can't go on like that. I think that it is very important that the Prime Minister does apologise to people for his handling of this episode of the pandemic."

More to follow...