Boris Johnson And Keir Starmer Have Clashed At PMQs Over Millions Of Pieces Of Defective PPE
Boris Johnson clashed with Labour leader Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions after Starmer accused the government of wasting millions of pounds on defective personal protective equipment (PPE) to help with the coronavirus response.
Starmer claimed that 184 million items of PPE have not been deemed fit for purpose so far, which would have cost the tax payer millions of pounds.
He said the government’s own response to a National Audit Office report on the equipment had revealed the full scale of the unusable pieces.
Addressing the Prime Minister, Starmer said: "This week a Cabinet Office response suggests the government purchased not 50 million unusable items of protective equipment but 180 million. And a new report this morning by the National Audit Office identifies a further set of orders totalling £240 million of facemasks for the NHS that it can't use.
"Will the Prime Minister come clean? How many hundreds of millions of pounds of tax payers money has been wasted on equipment that can't be used."
Starmer was basing his claim on how the Cabinet Office outlined it had purchased 36.4 billion items of PPE, and said that so far “only 0.5% of products bought have not met our high clinical standards”.
Labour say half a percent of 36.4 billion equates to 184 million items of unusable PPE.
Johnson said: "Actually 99.5 percent of the PPE - the 32 billion items of PPE that this country has secured - conformed entirely to our clinical need once we'd checked it.
"Of all the lines of attack - the pathetic lines of attack we've heard so far - this is the feeblest. We were faced with a national pandemic on a scale we had not seen before and the government was being attacked by the Labour party for not moving fast enough to secure PPE.
"He said we needed to unblock the blockages in the system. He complained we moved too slow, now he's saying we moved too fast. He's got to make up his mind on what his attack is."
Starmer said it was clear Johnson did not know how much tax payers money had been wasted.
Earlier this week, PoliticsHome revealed a Scottish property firm whose director admitted he knew “nothing at all” about PPE before the pandemic, and who says he managed a deal with Chinese suppliers from his bedroom, was awarded a £9.6m contract to purchase equipment for the NHS.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe