WATCH: PM must accept responsibility over Covid failings, Starmer says

Elliot Chappell

Keir Starmer has said Boris Johnson should take responsibility and apologise after the publication of a ‘lessons learned’ report into the pandemic response that found “deliberate” government policy had resulted in a higher death toll.

In an interview with Sky News this afternoon, the Labour leader condemned the Prime Minister’s response to the health crisis following the publication of the damning cross-party report from two parliamentary committees this morning.

“The Prime Minister should take responsibility because the responsibility is his, and he should apologise. But I’d like to just start by acknowledging just how difficult a day this will be for the bereaved families, learning what they will learn in this report, which is a damning indictment of the government and the flaws and errors and failures of the government: running down the NHS before the pandemic, being far too slow to respond with the price being paid by those bereaved families, chaotic track and trace,” he said.

“The least the Prime Minister can do is address the families, apologise and bring forward the public inquiry just as quickly as possible.”

The report released this morning by the health and science committees criticised resistance early in the health crisis to introduce measures such as lockdowns and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

It condemned the “gradual and incremental approach to introducing non-pharmaceutical interventions” in the early stages of the first wave and the decision not to introduce a lockdown until March 23rd, two months after SAGE first met.

“This slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delay or disagreement between ministers and their advisers,” the report said.

“It was a deliberate policy – proposed by official scientific advisers and adopted by the governments of all of the nations of the UK. It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy.”

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