Keir Starmer: New COVID-19 variant was 'spotted in September'
Sir Keir said his party backed Mr Johnson’s decision to move large parts of London and the southeast into a new Tier 4 lockdown and cut the timeframe of relaxed covid restrictions from five days to one for the rest of England.
Is he abstaining or using his considerable powers of hindsight?
The Labour leader said: “Sadly the measures the Government announced yesterday are necessary and we will support them.”
But it was a different story on December 1 when MPs approved the UK government’s plan for the tougher tiered system for England by 291 votes to 78 with Labour abstaining from the vote with the exception of 15 of its MPs who voted against the Government.
Sir Keir’s latest position and his reaction to the Prime Minister’s statement sparked a swift backlash on social media.
Joe Amadeus tweeted: “Is he abstaining or using his considerable powers of hindsight?”
Another critic, Norman Smith tweeted: “I can’t tell whether he’s on his feet or sat on a fence while he’s talking.”
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Some people criticised the tone of Sir Keir’s response to the growing crisis.
Lizzie Romilly tweeted: “I find this ‘I told you so’ approach in the middle of a pandemic truly sickening.
“Couldn’t you have constructed a different approach?”
Cat Veester tweeted: “Tories may not be handling this well but all I’m hearing is you constantly slating Boris instead of saying how you would do it better.
“Stop name shaming and start doing something productive.
“You will not win votes by just whining about Boris. Earn your votes the right way!”
Sir Keir described the Government announcement as heartbreaking and said the country was angry at the way the crisis had been handled by the Prime Minister.
He told a press conference: “We have known about rising infections and the NHS reaching capacity in many parts of the country for weeks.
“The new strain was actually first spotted in September. The alarms bells have been ringing for weeks, but the Prime Minister chose to ignore them.
“A virus of this sort demands early action. Decisive action. A clear plan and a clear message. Yet we have had none of that.
“The Prime Minister delayed. He told the country to go ahead and have a merry little Christmas.
“He told people in London and the South East to carry on shopping. And to make plans to see families.
“And yet, three days later he tells millions of families to rip up those plans. And introduces further restrictions.”
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The Labour leader also told the press conference: “It was blatantly obvious last week that the free for all at Christmas was a risk too far.”
Sir Keir claimed that Mr Johnson had done “what he always does”, and “dismissed the challenge, ruffled his hair”.
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