Shameless Boris Johnson moans about 'unseemly' attack on Test and Trace shambles


Boris Johnson has complained about “unjustified” attacks from Keir Starmer over the Test and Trace shambles.

The Prime Minister moaned that continued criticism of the under-fire testing chief Dido Harding was “unseemly and unjustified” despite widespread shortages of tests.

The Government has come under sustained attack over the testing programme, which has seen people told to travel hundreds of miles to get coronavirus tests.

Mr Johnson dodged questions from the Labour leader about his bizarre claim on Tuesday that the Test and Trace scheme was “very little or nothing to do with” the spread of the virus.

He had previously hailed the contact tracing scheme as a game changer in the battle against coronavirus.

Labour leader Keir Starmer challenged the Prime Minister on testing chaos

Mr Starmer challenged Mr Johnson on his contradictory claims during a fiery Prime Minister’s Questions, saying: “Both positions cannot be right – which one is it Prime Minister?”

The PM replied: “It is an obvious fact of biology and epidemiology that alas this disease is transmitted by human contact or aerosol contact.

“But it is one of the great advantages of NHS Test and Trace, which we did not have working earlier in the pandemic, that we now have the ability to see in granular detail where the epidemic is breaking out, exactly which groups are being infected.”

Mr Starmer accused the PM of “pretending there isn’t a problem” with Test and Trace and demanded to know where the blockage was in the system.

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He said: “Is the explanation from the PM that we haven’t got enough capacity because nobody could have expected the rise in demand? That’s the Dido Harding defence.

“Or is it we’ve got all the capacity we need, it just that people are being unreasonable in asking for tests? That’s the (Matt) Hancock defence. So which is it?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I must say that the continual attacks by the Opposition on Dido Harding in particular are unseemly and unjustified.”

He claimed the UK was testing more people than “any other European country” and repeated his commitment to 500,000 tests by the end of October.

And he accused the Labour leader of “constantly knocking [the scheme] from the sidelines”.

Mr Starmer hit back furiously, saying members of his family worked in the NHS.

He challenged the Government on the testing shambles following children going back to school, adding: “How on earth did we get into this mess?”

Mr Johnson said: “We are doing our level best to get every child a test who has symptoms and further to that, thanks to the efforts of teachers in this country, of parents, pupils, 99.9% of our schools are now back.”

But Mr Starmer accused the Prime Minister of being “out of touch” with the experiences of parents.

He said: “That’s such a poor defence, the point… isn’t whether the children have got Covid, it’s that they’ve got Covid symptoms and then they’re off school.

“The Government’s own department shows that one in eight children are off school this week. That disrupts their education. Whether it’s Covid symptoms or other symptoms is nothing to the point.

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“If the Prime Minister doesn’t see that, he’s really out of touch with families and what they’re going through in schooling day in day out in the last few weeks.

“The reality is losing control of testing is a major reason why the Prime Minister is losing control of this virus.”

The pair also clashed over lack of support for businesses following sweeping new restrictions announced by the Government.

Under pressure from the Labour leader to continue the furlough scheme, the PM said the Government will introduce “further creative and imaginative schemes to keep our economy moving”.

And he accused Labour of exploiting the pandemic for political gain.

Pointing to words from shadow education secretary Kate Green, who said Labour shouldn’t “let a good crisis go to waste”, Mr Johnson said: “That’s the real approach of the Labour Party. Seeking to create political opportunity out of a crisis.”





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