Shelagh Fogarty clashes with Tory MP over UK's handling of coronavirus

6 October 2020, 16:42

By Sam Sholli

A Conservative MP has clashed with Shelagh Fogarty over the Government's handling of coronavirus.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie's exchange with Shelagh comes as Boris Johnson today pledged not to let the pandemic thwart efforts to "level up" the country.

The Prime Minister said that the virus would not impede efforts to "build back better," but did also say that "going back to normal" after the coronavirus crisis will not be enough.

Despite praising the Government's determination and current position as being "in exactly the right place", Mr Bowie did admit that it "has made mistakes" that it had to learn from.

However, Shelagh was quick to challenge Mr Bowie when he talked about the coronavirus crisis being an "unprecedented situation".

She replied: "Yes, it is. But other comparable countries have done it better. You know that. Look at Germany and testing.

"Germany on testing has such an efficient system that you can literally swan into your local train station and be asked if you fancy taking a test, symptoms or no symptoms. That's what we want."

However, the Conservative politician was keen to praise aspects of the Government's record on handling the coronavirus crisis.

"We are now testing more people a day than comparable countries in Europe... Of course, with that comes massive problems," he said.

He added: "Germany was in a much better position as we went into this with the laboratory network that it had and with the testing regime which was able to roll out very quickly. We had to build that practically from scratch."

But Shelagh labelled the UK's starting position in dealing with the crisis as a "disgrace" and took issue with Mr Bowie disagreeing with that assessment.

She said: "Really? You disagree that we were utterly unprepared for a testing infrastructure when we knew for decades that the biggest threat to the nation's health and security is pandemic. We knew that and there's documentation to back it up. We knew that and we weren't ready."

Meanwhile, figures today have shown that the death toll for coronavirus in England and Wales has risen for the third week in a row.

The Office of National Statistics says 215 Covid-19 deaths were registered in the week to September 25th - more than 50 per cent higher than the week before. In the north west figures have almost tripled.