Sir Keir Starmer warns Boris Johnson the UK risks ‘falling behind the rest of the world’ on easing coronavirus lockdown as Labour leader demands PM hold an ‘adult conversation’ with the public about what comes next
- The Labour leader has written to the Prime Minister setting out lockdown fears
- Sir Keir said government risks UK ‘falling behind rest of the world’ on lockdown
- Urged Mr Johnson to hold an ‘adult conversation’ about how to ease measures
- UK ministers have repeatedly refused to discuss end-of-lockdown strategy
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Sir Keir Starmer has warned Boris Johnson the UK risks ‘falling behind the rest of the world’ in its coronavirus response if ministers continue to refuse to tell the public what the government’s lockdown exit strategy is.
The Labour leader has written to the Prime Minister to urge him to hold an ‘adult conversation’ with Britons to spell out what they are likely to face next.
The move by Sir Keir comes after numerous UK ministers repeatedly refused to discuss how lockdown measures could be eased despite the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments publishing their own plans.
Sir Keir Starmer, pictured in the Commons on April 22, said the UK risks falling behind the res rest of the world on easing the coronavirus lockdown
The Labour leader has written to Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street on March 18, to urge the PM to set out his end-of-lockdown strategy
Mr Johnson is widely expected to return to work tomorrow after spending time at Chequers to recover from his own battle with coronavirus.
The issue of when and how to lift lockdown measures is likely to be at the top of his in tray amid growing pressure from Cabinet ministers, Tory grandees and Conservative Party donors for him to level with the nation.
In his letter to the premier, Sir Keir said it is essential ministers learn the lessons from the mistakes made dealing with the crisis.
He said the UK was again in danger of lagging behind other countries which were already engaged in ‘adult’ conversations with their citizens as to how the restrictions could be eased.
Ministers have argued that talking about ending lockdown risks undermining their central message that people need to stay home to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Labour leader said any exit strategy would only be effective if the government puts the necessary planning, investment and infrastructure in place early.
‘Simply acting as if this discussion is not happening is not credible, especially when other governments and our own devolved administrations have been able to communicate so much more,’ he wrote.
‘The British public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work. They deserve to be part of an adult conversation about what comes next.
‘If we want to take people with us and secure their consent, this is necessary now.
‘This is a national crisis and therefore needs a national response. The coming weeks require urgent preparation and planning from the Government.
‘We have already seen the consequences of poor planning and preparation. That cannot happen again.’
Sir Keir said that while Labour fully supported the lockdown, the government had been too slow to enter it, too slow to increase testing and too slow to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS and care staff.
‘If we are to learn from these mistakes, the government cannot fall short in its preparation for what happens when the time is right for lockdown measures to be gradually lifted,’ he said.
‘The UK government is behind the curve on this. I fear we are falling behind the rest of the world. That is why we need to see a significant step-change in the government’s response to this pandemic.
‘Decisions need to be taken quicker and communication with the public needs to be clearer.’