WATCH: Labour “would have locked down earlier”, says Ashworth

Jonathan Ashworth has said that the Labour Party “would have locked down earlier” and introduced other restrictions sooner than the government had in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with Sky News this morning, he said that he would have introduced bans on mass gatherings earlier in the pandemic and highlighted that he had been pushing the government to do so.

The Shadow Health Secretary also criticised the government for having “moved away from our testing and tracing programme” in March while other countries, such as Germany and South Korea, had continued.

Ashworth told viewers that he thought that the UK should have continued with the testing and tracing approach, and should have been pushing to build capacity on testing throughout in a “big national effort”.

Commenting on the resignation of government scientist Neil Ferguson from the scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE), Ashworth said: “If we have social distancing rules in place, everybody should be following them.”

Ferguson stepped down from his role, in which he had advised on the implementation of the UK-wide lockdown, after it emerged that he had undermined the measures when a visitor came to his home.

The total number of coronavirus deaths in the UK, according to ONS data released yesterday, now exceeds 32,000. The number of confirmed cases in the country is 194,990 – but with low levels of testing the figure is thought to be much higher.

More from LabourList