The Prime Minister has been given a grilling for telling seaside towns to ‘show some guts’ days before a major incident was declared at a packed Bournemouth Beach.
Boris Johnson was also accused of being too slow to act on a surge of coronavirus cases in Leicester due to ‘lost’ data, meaning the city has now been put on the UK’s first local lockdown.
Challenging Downing Streets’ attitude to lifting the lockdown at today’s PMQs Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘The Prime Minister can’t just bat away challenge. These are matters of life and death, other people’s livelihoods.
‘An example of this, last week the Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) asked the Prime Minister how can seaside towns be expected to cope with likely influx of visitors to beaches and parks during the hot weather?
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‘The Prime Minister replied, show some guts. Two days later Bournemouth beach was closed with 500,000 visitors, a major incident was declared. Does the Prime Minister now regret being so flippant?’
Johnson replied that he was making it ‘absolutely clear that as we go forward with our plan, our cautious plan for opening up the economy, it is very, very important that people who do represent seaside communities, places where UK tourists will want to go, should be as welcoming as they can possibly be’.
He added: ‘But it is also vital that people have to behave responsibly and that is why the scenes in Bournemouth were completely unacceptable and that is why we stick to the advice that we have given.’
Sir Keir also asked the PM why the Government was ‘so slow to act’ to implement a lockdown in Leicester after it knew of a spike in virus cases.
He told the Commons: ‘At the daily press conference on June 18 the Health Secretary said “there’s an outbreak of Covid-19 right now in parts of Leicester”.
‘Yet it was only on Monday evening this week that the Government introduced restrictions. That’s a delay of 11 days during which the virus was spreading in Leicester.’
More to follow.
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