The Prime Minister has been asked why he was ‘so slow to act’ as coronavirus infection rates surged last month,
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pointed out at today’s PMQs that 17,000 people in the UK have died of Covid-19 since the last session in December 16, when Boris Johnson resisted calls to scrap Christmas bubbles.
Eventually the Government buckled under pressure on December 19, cancelling the festive easing of rules completely for London and the South East and limiting it to Christmas Day only for the rest of England.
Downing Street was accused of acting far too slowly and being confusing with their messaging by allowing the bubbles, dismissing warnings of scientists and epidemiologists, and then cancelling them at the last minute.
Sir Keir said: ‘The last PMQs was on December 16. The Prime Minister told us then that we were seeing, in his words, a significant reduction in the virus. He told us then that there was no need for endless lockdowns and no need to change the rules about Christmas mixing.
‘Since then, since that last PMQs, 17,000 people have died of Covid, 60,000 people have been admitted to hospital and there has been over a million new cases. How did the Prime Minister get it so wrong and why was he so slow to act?
Johnson replied: ‘Of course, what (Sir Keir) fails to point out is that on December 18, two days later, the Government was informed of the spread of the new variant and the fact that it spreads roughly 50-70% faster than the old variant, and that is why it is indeed correct to say that the situation today is very troubling indeed.
‘This is the toughest of times, but we can see the way forward.’
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