Government ‘bobbing all over the place’ in Covid response, says Starmer | Politics

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Keir Starmer has accused the government of “bobbing all over the place” in the face of the coronavirus crisis and making more than a dozen significant U-turns.

Stepping up his personal criticism of the prime minister, the Labour leader claimed Boris Johnson has presided over “serial incompetence” while dealing with the pandemic.

“At the moment, amongst my concerns is that the government hasn’t really got any anchors,” Starmer told a Co-operative party virtual conference. “It’s bobbing all over the place.”

He said: “I think it is 13 or 14 U-turns now. If it was one or two, I think many people across the country, if the government made a mistake and then U-turned, would say ‘well, fair enough, we are dealing with a pandemic’.

“But when you have 12, 13, or 14 U-turns the only thing that can be read into that is serial incompetence.”

With new restrictions expected to be imposed in parts of England next week, Starmer was critical of the business aid package unveiled by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Friday.

“The scheme that was unveiled yesterday goes a bit further, but there are still gaps in it,” he said. “I think, though, that the government has lost sight of the guiding principle, and the guiding principle should be that restrictions are always accompanied by appropriate economic support.

“If that had been the principle throughout, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are in at the moment.”

On the test-and-trace system, Starmer suggested Johnson has been spouting rhetoric rather than ensuring it worked properly.

“Test, trace and isolate is critical,” he said. “The prime minister said we would have a world-beating system – we didn’t need that, we just need an effective one that works. ‘World-beating’ is just Johnson rhetoric.

“Getting a test quickly, getting the result quickly and then reaching the contacts so that self-isolation works – that’s not working properly, which means that thousands and thousands of people are walking around today who should be in self-isolation. So, that bit needs to be fixed.”

Last weekend, Starmer told the Observer that the prime minister was governing “in hindsight”. He said: “He charges forward, he has a car crash, looks in the rear-view mirror and says: ‘What’s that all about?’”

Johnson had faced questions over ordering people back to work and the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – widely considered to have contributed to the rise in infections.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Government ‘bobbing all over the place’ in Covid response, says Starmer | Politics

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