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The House of Commons was home to a tense exchange between Sir Keir Starmer and Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister defended his coronavirus restrictions. Mr Johnson hit out at the Labour leader for his party’s alleged lack of support through the COVID-19. But Sir Keir responded to the attack inviting the Prime Minister to “start listening” as he suggested they might “get on better” if he did.
The clamouring from the benches was the result of Sir Keir confirming he backs the Government’s rule of six despite on Tuesday abstaining from voting in favour of the measure.
The Conservative backbenches’s reaction gave the Labour leader some pause before he resumed his answer: “Yes, but if the Prime Minister can’t see and hear local communities when they say the infection rate has gone up ten-fold under restrictions, and he doesn’t realise that’s a problem, that’s part of the problem.
“There’s a further cause of anger – Prime Minister if you actually listen to the question, we might actually get on better.”
The zinger had MPs oohing and clamouring further but Sir Keir did not allow the noise to stop him.
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He continued: “There’s further cause of anger. Lack of clarity about why particular restrictions have been introduced.
“For example, in the Prime Minister’s own local authority, Hillingdon, there are 62 cases per 100,000 yet no local restrictions.
“But in 20 local areas across England, restrictions were introduced when infection was much lower.
“In Kirklees, it was only 29 per 100,000. Local communities genuinely don’t understand these differences. Can he please explain to them?”
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The Prime Minister however dismissed Sir Keir as he reminded the Labour leader the Government repeatedly explained the reasoning behind the current restrictions.
The UK has experienced a concerning spike in new infections over the past few months which have slowly resulted in local lockdowns being activated across the country.
Mr Johnson said: “I think the he’s heard from me, and he’s heard repeatedly from the Government, why we’re bringing in differentiated local restrictions.
“I’ve just given the figures for the northeast.
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“I wish I could pretend that everything was going to be rosy in the Midlands or indeed in London where, alas, we’re also seeing infections rise.
“That’s why we need a concerted national effort, we need to follow the guidance, we need hands, face, trace and test if you have symptoms and obey the rule of six.
“I think it quite extraordinary that the Right Honourable Gentleman has just said he personally supports the rule of six while telling his entire party to abstain.”
The Government on Tuesday secured Parliament’s backing for the household visit restriction but most Labour MPs abstained as did several Conservative MPs.
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