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Labour Would Back Boris Johnson On Second National Lockdown, Sir Keir Starmer Says

Sir Keir Starmer says he would back Boris Johnson on second national lockdown (Credit: PA)

2 min read

Labour would back Boris Johnson on imposing a second national lockdown if it was deemed necessary, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

The opposition leader said he would support "whatever measures the government takes" as it battles to regain control of spiralling coronavirus cases and a buckling test and trace system. 

"One of the very important things in a pandemic is the clarity of communciations," Sir Keir told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. 

"It’s the reason I've said I'll support the government...the government have got their scientific advisers and they will make their decisions...we will follow that and we will reinforce their communications. 

"Because in the end this is not about party politics. This is about getting the nation through this virus, so if the government takes action I will support that, we will support it and I will support their message.

"Because what I want, like the government, is for this virus to come back under control."

But the Labour leader said the "biggest problem" the UK currently faces is a lack of capacity within the testing system, which has left thousands across the country unable to access tests near their homes.

"If I was the prime minister I would apologise for the fact that we are in this situation with testing," he added.

"Throughout the summer we were saying prepare for the autumn and instead we had the exams fiasco.

"I would make fixing testing the number one priority and reinstate the daily press conferences, so we all know what's going on. Because up and down the country people are concerned about the fact the testing system is near collapse."

Health secretary Matt Hancock was expected to meet City Hall officials on Sunday, after London Mayor Sadiq Khan wanted the capital is on the brink of needing further intervention.

Mr Hancock said the government's network of local lockdowns had helped to bring down case numbers in areas where there were spikes, but that the UK stood at a "tipping point" where people's willingness to follow the rules would determine whether stricter national measures were needed.

"[We have] got the cavalry coming over the next few months; the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvement in treatments," he told the BBC.

"But we've got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe." 

Sir Keir said he backed new legal powers to hit those who fail to self-isolate when ordered to do so with £10,000 fines and that the government's new "rule of six" restrictions in England provided "clarity".

"I think it is necessary to take measures against the very few people who are frequently and repeatedly breaking the rules," he added.

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