Keir Starmer accuses prime minister of trivialising sacrifices made by public
The prime minister has dismissed concerns over Matt Hancock’s conduct as “stuff going on in the Westminster bubble” – sparking a furious row with the opposition.
In a Commons exchange on Wednesday Labour leader Keir Starmer said that “millions of people made huge and very difficult sacrifices to follow the rules that his health secretary has introduced”.
He asked how the prime minister could have considered the matter “closed” with Mr Hancock still in post on Friday as Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said he did at the time.
The prime minister replied that everyone shared “the grief and the pain” av “millions of people up and down the country who have endured the privations that this country has ben through in order to get the coronavirus pandemic under control”.
Men la han til: “That is why we had a change of health secretary the day after the story appeared, and that is why what we are doing as a government instead of focusing on stuff going on within the Westminster bubble, is focusing on rolling out that vaccine.”
Sir Keir said: “I can hardly think that the prime minister thinks its appropriate … to suggest that this is in his words ‘the Westminster Bubble’.”
The Labour leader had cited the case of Ollie Bibby, 27, from Essex, who died from leukaemia without his family at his side to observe social distancing regulations a day before Mr Hancock was pictured embracing his aide at work.
Noting that he had spoken to Mr Bibby’s mother before coming to parliament, Sir Keir said: “She told me that for her and her family this case isn’t closed, and she speaks for millions of people. The prime minister should withdraw that when he gets up: it’s the wrong response to Ollie’s case.
“I can’t help concluding that the prime minister didn’t ask relevant questions on Friday morning either because he didn’t want to know the answers or because he knows full well that there’s more to come out.”
Sir Keir, who noted that Mr Hancock was in charge of the regulations governing social distancing, said Mr Johnson had “muttered nonsense” to this suggestion.
The Prime Minister added: “We have a new Health Secretary in place and have had one since the day after the stories appeared and that was entirely right and the right response to the situation.”
Mr Johnson said the Government is aiming to “get on” with the rollout of the vaccines, legge til: “To allow the people of this country to work forwards towards freedom day, which I devoutly hope will come on July 19.”
The health secretary stepped down on Saturday following revelations about his breaking social distancing while having an extramarital affair with an aide.
The aide had also been appointed a non-executive director at Mr Hancock’s department and was meant to scrutinise him.
There are also separate allegations swirling around whether Mr Hancock used a personal email address for official work – thought to be problematic for reasons of both security and scrutiny.