Sir Keir Starmer tells Boris Johnson to 'get a grip' on coronavirus crisis and accuses him of 'winging it' over lockdown rules

Sophia Sleigh
PA

Sir Keir Starmer today launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, accusing the Government of “winging it”.

The Labour leader made his strongest criticism yet of the Prime Minister’s leadership during the pandemic in an interview with the Guardian.

He called on Mr Johnson to "get a grip" and restore public confidence in his administration's response to the pandemic.

“Like many people across the country, there is a growing concern the government is now winging it," he said.

“At precisely the time when there should have been maximum trust in the government, confidence has collapsed.”

Today's intervention is a sharp escalation of rhetoric from the Labour leader, who has previously been restrained in launching direct attacks on the Government's coronavirus strategy.

Sir Keir warned that trust in the Government had been

He stopped short of calling for the Prime Minister's aide Dominic Cummings to quit during the scandal over his trip to Durham, unlike other opposition leaders.

In the interview with the Guardian, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras said the “Cummings factor” had “burned” the Government and led to a decline in public trust when it needed it the most.

Sir Keir made the comments just hours before he goes head-to-head with Mr Johnson in the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the Cummings story broke.

He warned: "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."

Some scientists have warned that Monday's easing of lockdown rules were premature.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed the country is winning the battle against coronavirus, making it possible to bring implement “some cautious changes to the lockdown rules”.

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.

“We’ve called for an exit strategy. What we appear to have got is an exit without a strategy.”

Sir Keir told Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “get a grip”. (AFP via Getty Images)

A Downing Street spokesman told the BBC its focus was on "helping the country recover safely from coronavirus and restoring the livelihoods of millions of people across the country".

He added: "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."

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