Starmer calls for Johnson to form ‘national consensus’ on easing lockdown


Sir Keir Starmer has called on Boris Johnson to form a “national consensus” on the next phase of the coronavirus response as ministers work on plans to ease the lockdown.

The Labour leader has backed the extension of the strict measures ahead of talks with the Prime Minister this week and pledged to work “constructively” with the Government.

But he continued his criticism of Mr Johnson’s handling of the crisis, saying ministers have been behind on testing, protective equipment and implementing the lockdown.

“We want to support the Government to get this right and that is why we need a national consensus on what happens next,” Sir Keir said.

“Our priority is protecting the public’s health and saving lives. That is why we supported the lockdown and again support the restrictions staying in place at this time.

“However, we need to be honest with the public about the challenges ahead. We are in this for the long haul. It is imperative that the Government is properly planning for what happens next and properly supporting our NHS and social care services.”

Sir Keir acknowledged public concerns about returning to work after more than six weeks of being told to stay home to protect themselves, loved ones and the NHS.

“People rightly need confidence it’s safe before they go back out to work, travel or use public services,” Sir Keir added.

Labour has outlined seven principles that it wants the Government to consider when planning for the next phase.

These include enforcing a “national safety standard” for businesses and schools, setting an “ambitious target” for contact tracing and introducing bespoke support for individuals and industries facing huge challenges, such as the hospitality sector.

A national plan to ensure supply chains for protective equipment for key workers are guaranteed and a “structured approach to easing and tightening restrictions” must also be formed, Labour said.

Ministers must legally review the current measures by May 7, while the PM is expected to set out a “roadmap” setting out the next steps on Sunday.