Wes Streeting has accused Conservative ministers of being “too busy making endorsements for fantasy candidates with far-fetched promises” and neglecting their responsibilities for “running this country”.
The Shadow Health Secretary described it as a “disgrace” that the Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay was not present to answer Labour’s urgent question, tabled after all ten NHS regional ambulance services in England moved to their highest state of alert on Tuesday amid a heat wave and a surge in Covid cases.
“Our NHS is going through the biggest crisis in its history. Every ambulance service is on its highest level of alert. Patients are forced to wait hours in pain and discomfort, and he is yet to say a word about any of it,” Streeting told parliament this afternoon.
The Labour frontbencher also highlighted that the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had failed to attend the home affairs select committee earlier today, arguing that “this isn’t even a government in office, let alone in power”.
He added: “If people like the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary can’t be bothered to turn up to do their job, if they’re not interested in the business of running this country, if they’re too busy making endorsements for fantasy candidates with far-fetched promises, perhaps it’s time they stepped aside so that Labour can give Britain the fresh start it needs.”
Johnson triggered a Conservative leadership election when he announced that he would stand down last week. The timetable for the leadership election was confirmed on Monday evening, with the final result expected on September 5th.
The list of those hoping to replace Boris Johnson has been reduced to eight: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Kemi Badenoch, Nadhim Zahawi, Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Hunt and Suella Braverman. Each secured the required 20 nominations to secure a place on the ballot.
Conservative MPs taking part in the first round of voting. Those who receive fewer than 30 votes in this round will drop out of the race. Those who do will go on to successive rounds of voting to whittle down the list to a final two. A result on the first ballot is expected at around 5pm.
Streeting asked the minister whether the government would be convening COBRA in response to the heat wave, and asked what the impact of a “national heatwave emergency” would be for schools, transport and other public services, whether care homes will be able to cope and what contingencies are in place.
“Isn’t it the case that of course extreme weather is putting further pressure on our emergency services, but it is 12 years of Conservative underfunding that has left them unable to cope,” the Shadow Health Secretary said.