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Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson has made ‘serious mistakes’ amid coronavirus outbreak

Keir Starmer criticised the government for delays in testing and failing to provide protective equipment (PA)

2 min read

New Labour leader Keir Starmer has said the Prime Minister has made “serious mistakes” in his response to the ongoing pandemic.

In an article for the Sunday Times, he said: “The public is placing an enormous trust in the government at the moment: it is vital that that trust is met with openness and transparency about those mistakes and the decisions that have been made.”

Writing on his first full day as party leader, the former shadow Brexit Secretary claimed the country was “far behind” on testing and that frontline workers couldn’t get protective equipment due to “blockages in the system”.

“The government must listen to our frontline NHS and care workers,” he said. 

“We have heard too many stories of staff unable to get the equipment they need to keep them safe or to adequately care for patients.”

Sir Keir also called for ministers to set out an “exit strategy” from measures brought in to slow the spread of the disease, and for the implementation of a national vaccine programme. 

It comes after Boris Johnson wrote to opposition leaders on Saturday inviting them to a briefing next week with the country's chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser.

The PM said: "As party leaders we have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency.”

"I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country."

The invitation was extended the same day Sir Keir won a convincing victory in Labour’s leadership election, in which he won 56.2% of the vote to succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

He is expected to begin to appoint his Shadow Cabinet on Sunday, starting with a clear-out of the current frontbench.

Some less well-known shadow ministers may get more prominent roles, with Anneliese Dodds and Nick Thomas-Symonds among those tipped for a promotion.

It is also widely expected that Sir Keir’s fellow competitors for the leadership, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, will have roles on his team.

Outgoing leader Mr Corbyn has also previously failed to rule out whether he would accept a job in his successor's team, though Mr Starmer is not expected to make him an offer.

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