United Kingdom

Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of ‘gross negligence’ over Christmas U-turn

Keir Starmer attacked the prime minister over the change to Christmas plans (Picture: Getty)

Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘gross negligence’ after he insisted Christmas bubbles could go ahead as planned, only to change his mind six days before the big day.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said he should have acted earlier – as he had pressed him to – saying he ignored concerns raised.

He told an online press conference: ‘Yet again, the Prime Minister waited until the 11th hour to take this decision.

‘It was blatantly obvious last week that the Prime Minister’s plan for a free-for-all over Christmas was a risk too far.

‘And yet, rather listening to concerns and taking them seriously, the Prime Minister did what he always does: dismissed the challenge, ruffled his hair and made a flippant comment.

‘We have known about rising infections and the NHS reaching capacity in many parts of the country for weeks.

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‘The alarms bells have been ringing for weeks, but the Prime Minister chose to ignore them.

‘It is an act of gross negligence by a Prime Minister who, once again, has been caught behind the curve.’

Last night, Boris Johnson announced that the spread of a new strain of coronavirus which could be 70% more infectious had driven him to put London and areas of the South East into a strict tier four lockdown.

He also cancelled the Christmas bubbles between three households which had been allowed between December 23 and 27, saying that in areas outside of tier four, households would only be allowed to mix indoors for Christmas Day itself. Within London, people would only be allowed to meet one other person from another household outdoors.

Sir Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson to apologise to the public for the way the latest coronavirus restrictions had been handled.

He said: ‘I think the Prime Minister should apologise. This is not just one mistake when he has otherwise got things right. It is the same mistake over and over again.

‘At the heart of the problem here is a Prime Minister who simply doesn’t want to be unpopular and therefore won’t take the tough decisions that are necessary, until he is forced into them at the 11th hour.

‘We can’t go on like that. I think that it is very important that the Prime Minister does apologise to people for his handling of this episode of the pandemic.’

Boris Johnson said last night: ‘As Prime Minister, it is my duty to take the difficult decisions, to do what is right to protect the people of this country.

‘Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.

‘We are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones this Christmas, so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so we can see them at future Christmases.’

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