Sir Keir Starmer has said Britain ‘can’t go back to business as usual’ after lockdown as the Labour leader added that the crisis ‘has brought out the human spirit in all of us’.
In his response to the Prime Minister’s broadcast on Sunday, the leader of the opposition said it would be impossible to return to normal life ‘after all this, all the sacrifice and all the loss’.
Sir Keir said that as the country emerged from the crisis, there must be a collective effort to build a better society.
‘When we get through this it will be because of the hard work and the bravery of every key worker as they took on this virus and kept our country going.
‘In their courage and their sacrifice and their bravery, we can see a better future. This crisis has brought out the resilience and the human spirit in all of us.
‘We must go forward with a vision of a better society built on that resilience and built on that human spirit.’
Boris Johnson‘s government has been accused of sparking confusion today after the prime minister outlined his exit strategy which pundits said ‘left many questions unanswered’.
Ministers have been engulfed in arguments as to whether people can meet with more than one person from a different household, and if schools should begin a staggered return on June 1, among others.
At the daily downing street press briefing tonight, Mr Johnson rebuffed criticism saying he puts his faith in the ‘common sense of British people’.
The UK announced 210 more deaths from coronavirus today, taking its total to 32,065, and 3,877 further cases of the virus, bringing its total to 223,060.
Boris Johnson has been slammed for his statement yesterday which pundits said left many questions unanswered. The government is attempting to lay the foundations for easing the UK’s lockdown
Sir Starmer said his party would seek to work constructively with the government on its response to the pandemic but would continue to hold ministers to account for their actions.
‘What we needed from the Prime Minister last night was clarity and reassurance,’ he said.
‘The Prime Minister said he was setting out a road map, but if we’re to complete the journey safely a road map needs clear directions. So many of us have questions that need answering.
‘For as long as this crisis persists I’ll keep demanding answers to these questions because that’s how we get better decisions and better outcomes.
‘I remain committed to working constructively with the Government in the national interest.’
Boris Johnson waves as he goes for a walk in St James Park behind Downing Street clutching a mug of tea as holes appeared in his speech to the nation last night. He will address the Commons later today. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab caused chaos and confusion in a series of disastrous interviews this morning
Though supporters praised Starmer’s criticism of Johnson, others accused him of being unnecessarily divisive as the country faces the coronavirus crisis as they took to social media this evening following the Labour leader’s address.
Defending his announced changes to the lockdown this evening, the prime minister said the government would be driven ‘not by hope or economic recovery as an end in itself but by data and science and public health.’
Wear a face mask on public transport or in shops where you can’t social distance, new guidance says
People should wear a face covering on public transport or in shops where social distancing is not always possible, the Government announced today.
Official advice released this afternoon said the coverings will help people avoid transmitting the disease to others if they have it without any symptoms.
It added that homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk, but surgical masks or respirators should continue to be reserved for healthcare workers.
Ministers added that face coverings should not be used by children aged under two or those with respiratory conditions.
People who may find it difficult to manage the masks correctly such as primary age children unassisted are also advised not to wear them.
Officials said the new guidance was being issued in response to there being ‘more movement outside people’s immediate household’ as Britons start returning to work.
While the Prime Minister has insisted that social distancing ‘must be maintained’, he did not mention the use of face coverings during his address to the UK last night.
As he was grilled over the ‘exit plan’ Mr Johnson insisted that mixing should only happen with one person from another household – and even then while the two metre rule is observed, and confirmed the ‘stay alert’ message means stay at home as much as possible.
He also played down expectations of a quick end to the country’s misery, saying going ‘too far and too fast’ risked a devastating second peak.
The government pushed out a 50-page ‘road map’ to exiting the coronavirus crisis this afternoon, plotting a route through three stages to get the country up and running.
But the blueprint still stressed the government’s five tests had not been met, meaning a major loosening of curbs is not possible.
It said future restructions will be targeted ‘more precisely’ and would recognise ‘not everybody or every group’s risk is the same’. It also holds out the prospect of non-essential shopping, TV sports and weddings being allowed to resume from next month.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have pointedly refused to follow some of the Westminster government’s key changes to the lockdown.
All three nations have rejected the change to a ‘stay alert’ message, and have blocked measures that would have seen a staged reopening of schools across the country in June.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacted with fury to the slogan change after saying she only found out about it while ‘reading the Sunday papers’.
Keir Starmer’s statement in response to Boris Johnson’s exit strategy for the UK in full
We are living through the biggest threat this country has faced for a generation.
Coronavirus has taken so much from us. It’s brought normal life to a halt. We can no longer see our friends, no longer spend time with extended family and over 30,000 people have lost their lives.
Behind these statistics are families torn apart by grief. Millions are worried about their loved ones, their jobs, their communities, their families and their future.
That’s why when I was elected leader of the Labour Party, just over a month ago, I promised a new type of opposition.
Labour will always put the national interest first.
We will have the courage to support the government when that’s the right thing to do and the courage to challenge the government where it’s getting it wrong.
Today, I repeat that message.
Labour has supported lockdown and we continue to do so. Public health and saving lives must always come first.
Whether we voted for this government or not, at this moment of national crisis we all rely on the government to get this right. That’s why we’ve called for a national consensus and offered to work with the government to defeat this dreadful virus.
What we needed from the prime minister last night was clarity and reassurance. We needed to hear that nobody would be asked to go to work or send their children to school without it being safe for them to do so.
We needed to know that the huge problems we’ve seen with protective equipment are over, that the crisis in our care homes has finally been gripped, that everybody who needs a test can finally get one. Above all, we needed to know when we could see our loved ones again.
The prime minister said he was setting out a road map, but if we’re to complete the journey safely a roadmap needs clear directions.
So many of us have questions that need answering.
How can we be sure our workplaces are now safe to return to? How can we get to work safely if we need public transport to do so? How can millions of people go back to work while balancing childcare and caring responsibilities? How do our police enforce these rules? And why are some parts of the United Kingdom now on a different path to others?
For as long as this crisis persists I’ll keep demanding answers to these questions because that’s how we get better decisions and better outcomes.
I remain committed to working constructively with the government in the national interest. And when this is over, and one day it will be, I’m determined we will build a better society.
Because after all this, all the sacrifice and the loss, we can’t go back to business as usual.
We can’t go back to a society where we clap our carers once a week but where half of our care workers are paid less than the real living wage.
We can’t go back to a society where we pay tribute to the heroes of the Second World War but see our care homes as an afterthought.
And we can’t go back to a country where we don’t invest in our public services but expect our frontline workers to protect us.
When we get through this it’ll be because of the hard work and the bravery of every key worker as they took on this virus and kept our country going.
In their courage and their sacrifice and their bravery, we can see a better future. This crisis has brought out the resilience and the human spirit in all of us.
We must go forward with a vision of a better society built on that resilience and built on that human spirit.
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