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Coronavirus: Keir Starmer criticised for claiming Dominic Raab 'reluctant' to take decisions while Boris Johnson recuperates

Keir Starmer said Dominic Raab was 'reluctant' to take big decisions.

3 min read

Keir Starmer has been criticised by Grant Shapps and Nicola Sturgeon for claiming the Government is unable to take big decisions while Boris Johnson recovers from the coronavirus.

The Labour leader said stand-in Prime Minister Dominic Raab was "reluctant" to sign off on a lockdown exit strategy without Mr Johnson's approval.

Sir Keir has called on the Government to set out its plans for lifting the restrictions imposed on the country to slow down the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking to the BBC's 'Coronavirus Newscast', the Labour leader said: "I think that throughout this they've struggled with taking decisions quickly enough.

"The other factor though, I think, is we all know that the Prime Minister has been in hospital.

"We've all been pleased to see that he's come out and is feeling better. And it feels as though they've been in a position probably for a week or 10 days now where it's been difficult for the Government to make big decisions. And I think there's a bit of that lying behind this as well.

"I suspect, although I don't know, that Dominic Raab is just reluctant - he probably does know that it's time for an exit strategy - but he's probably reluctant to sign it off without the Prime Minister and I think there's a bit of that in the mix."

But that was rejected by Mr Shapps, who insisted the Government was continuing to make decisions in Mr Johnson's absence.

The Transport Secretary told Radio Four's Today programme: "It’s completely untrue and I was surprised to see that being said, for the simple reason that yesterday alone I attended Cabinet, I attended the Cobra, I attended two or perhaps even three of the Cabinet sub-committees that are making all of the day-to-day decisions.

"It is simply not the case that everything’s on standstill. There would have been no difference to those decisions because we have been guided by the scientists and the medical advice, whether or not the Prime Minister had been in the room.

"This is a disease that doesn’t look to politicians to decide how to respond, it responds to science. That’s not the case at all and I hope we can continue with the very impressive cross-party and national effort against this virus and not turn it into those kinds of discussions."

Mr Shapps was backed by Ms Sturgeon, with Scotland's First Minister telling the same programme: "I don't know that that's fair - we're all struggling with this unprecedented circumstance and doing our best to plot a way through it."

The Prime Minister is continuing to recuperate at Chequers, where he has been since being discharged from hospital earlier this week.

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