David Davis laughs when asked if he understands government Covid strategy

4 October 2020, 13:05 | Updated: 5 October 2020, 16:41

By Joe Cook

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis laughed when asked if he understood the Government's coronavirus strategy on LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday.

Responding to Tom’s question on whether he understood the strategy, Mr Davis laughed and said: “Um well, not really.”

The senior Tory also said he also does not think the Government understands what its own strategy is in responding to the pandemic.

“The hard truth is that unless we get a fast and effective... 80 percent effective, track and trace system, we’re going to end up back in a lockdown,” Mr Davis said.

He added that it was “astonishing” that South Korea had an operational track and trace system going “in three weeks”, meanwhile the UK is still missing many contacts after six months.

“A number of countries have shown us how to do it. We have just got to get on top of this, grip it properly,” he said.

The former minister called on the Government to “get the operations right”, telling Tom: “It is not the strategy that is the problem, it is the operational capability.”

Mr Davis said Keir Starmer was making a “reasonable argument to say that the government has not got on top of [the pandemic] yet.”

But he blamed Whitehall for some of the problems, saying it was “bloody useless at running commercial contracts”, such as that given to outsourcing company Serco to contract trace.

“The contract with Serco should have been really tough, there should have been penalties if they didn’t hit 80 percent. I haven’t seen any penalties paid,” Mr Davis told LBC.

“[Whitehall] do this too often: big comfortable contracts with big comfortable companies not doing the job properly and we are seeing it here.”

Read more: Government 'did not listen to local experts' before bringing in lockdowns

The government is also facing criticism from members of its own SAGE scientific advisory group over the local lockdown measures.

Professor Robert Dingwall claims the science suggests regional coronavirus restrictions are not working to reduce Coronavirus cases.

"There is only one of the local lockdown areas, Luton, where there appears to have been any benefit from the lockdown and cases are rising again there. Which strongly suggests to me that many of the measures are ill considered or at least lack a clear evidence base," Professor Dingwall said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that tighter restrictions are necessary to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, but has admitted it is "too early to say" whether local lockdowns are effective in reducing infection rates.