'Gobsmacked' caller condemns PM's 'terrible' Westminster Bubble comment

30 June 2021, 14:28

James O'Brien caller brands PM 'terrible' for 'Westminster bubble'

By Fiona Jones

The prime minister was accused of a 'tone deaf' response after Sir Keir Starmer highlighted to a pointedly silent House of Commons the case of Oliver Bibby, 27, who died of leukaemia while unable to see his family due to Covid rules.

Sir Keir gave Ollie's example to highlight the sacrifices the nation has made during Covid. Oliver asked repeatedly to see his family but could only see one person, the Labour leader said.

The tragedy occurred the day before pictures emerged of Mr Hancock breaking Covid rules by kissing an aide.

In response, the PM dismissed the Hancock scandal, accusing Starmer of focusing on a 'Westminster Bubble' issue.

Caller Martin in Bethnal Green branded this response "terrible."

"It's ludicrous, he accuses Starmer of being in the Westminster Bubble...I was gobsmacked. The whole thing was just terrible from start to finish," Martin said.

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James proposed: "I don't think anybody honest in good faith with a straight face would try and defend Johnson today."

Martin said that the problem is is that people "stop listening", like he has because he knows what Johnson "is going to be like, I know he won't answer any of the questions, and I know he's going to sidestep."

"You can't give up," James said, "I know today you're right to be battered by the constant barrage of this nonsense, but Starmer is the one who has to find a way into the truth. I felt personally he got closer than ever today."

Oliver, from South Benfleet in Essex, died of leukaemia in hospital on 5 May, a day before Matt Hancock was filmed kissing Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall Office.

One person posted online: "Westminster bubble meant my husband couldn't see his sons for much of his last year, didn't see his brother or sister. Only saw my mum at my husband's funeral where I had to tell people they were not invited. My son sat on his own. Heartless crass comments."

Another wrote: "What sort of response is ‘Westminster Bubble’ to the death of this young man Olly mentioned by Starmer during PMQs? Despicable of PM to just go on about vaccinations. Johnson is disgusting!"

Mr Johnson went on to express sympathy with Oliver's case and with everyone who has "endured" the lockdown, adding "that is why we had a change of Health Secretary the day after the story appeared". 

Sir Keir Starmer responded: "This is not a Westminster bubble story" and asked the PM to withdraw the comment.

"It is the wrong response to Ollie's case", he said. Sir Keir added that he spoke to Ollie's mother this morning and "she told me for and her family, this case isn't closed."

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