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Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of ‘shameful’ attempt to blame care homes over coronavirus response

The Prime Minister will face the Labour leader at PMQs on Wednesday. (Image: Parliament)

2 min read

Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of a “shameful” attempt to blame care home operators for the high death toll among residents and staff.

The Labour leader, who will square off against Mr Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions later, called for an apology from the Conservative leader after he said “too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures” amid the pandemic.

Number 10 on Tuesday refused the opportunity to apologise for the Prime Minister’s comments, which were delivered on a trip to Yorkshire.

Mr Johnson had caused outrage among care providers for saying: “One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.

“We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.”

The National Care Association has asked the PM to retract the statement, while the Independent Care Group called the comments a “slap in the face for those workers after they have given and sacrificed so much”.

In a tweet on Tuesday evening, Sir Keir said: “At least 20,000 people have died from Covid-19 in care homes. Residents went without tests. Staff were left without PPE [personal protective equipment]. And all after a decade of cuts to social care.

“Shameful of Boris Johnson for trying to blame others for his government’s failures.”

The opposition party has called on the PM to apologise for the remarks.

But a spokesperson for the Prime Minister on Tuesday repeated the same line several times and declined to issue an apology.

Speaking about his words, the PM’s spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances. 

"The Prime Minister was pointing out that nobody knew what the correct procedures were, because the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known at the time. 

“We have put in place a comprehensive action plan to protect care homes, including rigorous testing, and additional funding.”

He added: “We know that care providers cross the country have been doing their utmost to keep those they look after safe in the most challenging circumstances. 

“And it remains the case that almost 60% of care homes have not had an outbreak at all.”

When urged to apologise or amend the phrasing, the spokesman repeated the line that “throughout the pandemic care homes have done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances”.

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