‘That’s what Labour is all about!’ Boris Johnson exposes Starmer’s plot to ‘exploit’ COVID

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The Labour leader claimed the Prime Minister and his Government are failing to take the country forward and come out victorious from the fight against coronavirus. But Boris Johnson hit back at Sir Keir by exposing his party’s plot to “exploit” the COVID-19 crisis as he reminded MPs in the Commons of what Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said at the beginning of the pandemic.

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The Prime Minister blasted: “It is quite an extraordinary state of affairs the Right Honourable gentleman’s general line of questioning.

“One moment he’s supporting the restrictions, the next moment he seems to be opposing them.

“One day they are theoretically marching side by side with the rest of us trying to defeat coronavirus, the next minute they are firing from the sidelines.

“I must repeat it, there was a Right Honourable Lady, the shadow education secretary, who really revealed what Labour is all about, what the Opposition is all about.

“She said this was a good crisis which they intended to exploit.

“We see this as a moment for the nation to come together.

“That’s what we’re doing, and we are taking the tough decisions that will take this country forward.”

Sir Keir Starmer pressed Boris Johnson on why the Government has deemed many jobs in hospitality to be not viable.

He told the Commons: “I spoke to the leader of Newcastle Council yesterday. He said the other big problem, apart from government messaging, is the lack of economic support being provided to local communities under restrictions.

“Newcastle Council indicate that, by the end of the year, 10,000 jobs in hospitality will have been lost. Many businesses are forced to stay closed.

“Prime Minister, but for these extraordinary restrictions, these are viable jobs. These businesses are doing the right thing. Why has the Government decided that these jobs aren’t worth saving?”

Mr Johnson responded: “As I’ve said repeatedly, we’re putting our arms around the whole of the UK economy, we will do everything we can to save every job.

“I must say I saw the Labour leader of Newcastle and I’m rather surprised by what he said because actually, to the best of my knowledge, they were calling for the measures that we put in and the best way to protect our jobs and our economy is to continue to work together, to comply with the measures to drive down the virus, to keep our children in education, which is an absolute priority for this country, and to keep the economy moving.”

Sir Keir said he supports the coronavirus restrictions but warned jobs are at risk, including 10,000 in Newcastle, adding: “What I am asking the Prime Minister is can the economic support go in for those who will lose their jobs?

“He didn’t answer that. There’s 10,000 people that wanted an answer to that question because they’re going to lose their jobs by Christmas. Prime Minister, you really should have answered it.

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“The reality is the Chancellor has made a political choice to reduce economic support just when the new health restrictions are coming in.”

The Labour leader quoted a wedding venue owner from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency about the difficulties and possible redundancies they face.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle also intervened to remind the Commons: “It is Prime Minister’s Questions, not Opposition questions.”

Boris Johnson defended the Government’s economic support and said he “feels” for the business owner quoted before adding: “The best way forward is for him and all other businesses in the country is if we all pull together now, get the virus down, keep the economy moving.”

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