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Keir Starmer hit out at Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as he accused him of being asleep at the wheel. He admitted the Prime Minister is good at rhetoric but was quick to criticise his leadership. Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby asked Sir Keir: “Do you sometimes feel a bit envious that he’s able to cheer the country on? That he somehow he is quite charismatic.”
Speaking to Sky News, Sir Keir said: “My concern about the Prime Minister is he is good on the rhetoric but he’s not good on governing.
“There is a big gap between the rhetoric and reality.”
He went on to say an inquiry into Mr Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was inevitable.
The Labour leader said: “I think an inquiry is inevitable.
“There will be an inquiry in due course.”
“At the moment, I think it is important that we focus on the job in hand,” he said when asked why he was not calling for an immediate inquiry.
Asked about his assessment of the Government’s handling, he said: “Too slow, asleep at the wheel and they really need to up their game.”
His comments come after he warned communities could face local coronavirus lockdowns lasting months unless the Government delivers an effective contact-tracing system.
Speaking to the Local Government Association annual conference – taking place online – the Labour leader said there was a “massive problem” with the NHS Test and Trace programme.
He said figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested that three-quarters of the people infected by the virus were not being contacted by the system.
Unless the situation improved, he said it could be very difficult safely to lift local lockdowns – like that in Leicester – once they have been imposed.
He said: “If we don’t get to grips with it we could be in local lockdown situations for months and months and months.
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“It is going to be the story of the summer if we are not careful.”
Sir Keir also called for local councils to be given additional powers to ensure they were able to enforce local lockdown regulations.
He added: “If you need to close down a particular area at the moment, I don’t think local authorities have got the necessary powers to do it.
“What we can’t have is a situation where statutory instruments or other bits of legislation have to be passed in a hurry in response to each outbreak. There is a huge amount of work to do there.”
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