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The Labour leader made the remarks during a speech at the Confederation of British Industry conference after experts warned about the catastrophic impact of a second lockdown on the British economy. The emergency measure will bring on a double dip recession, with UK GDP predicted to shrink by up to eight percent in the final quarter of 2020.
Addressing the CBI Sir Keir criticised Mr Johnson’s decision to hold off a second lockdown.
Sir Keir said he did not blame the Government for the pandemic “but I do blame it for the way it’s been handled”.
He added that could not look past the “catalogue of mistakes that have cost lives and livelihoods”.
He then shifted the blame onto Chancellor Rishi Sunak as well as Mr Johnson as they “failed to learn” and “failed to listen” and that the consequence of that was “tragic” but “too predictable”.
Sir Keir asserted that the main takeaway from the first wave had been ignored and that in order to control the spread decisions should be taken early and “decisively”.
He added: “One of the things I’ve learnt from this crisis is that it exposes leadership like nothing else.
“On that count the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have failed.
The Labour leader then recalled advice by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recommending a two to three week “circuit breaker” lockdown on September 21.
He said: “On 21 September, the government’s own scientists – Sage – recommended an “urgent” two-to-three week circuit breaker in order to prevent the virus getting out of control.
“On that day there were 11 deaths from COVID-19 and there were just over 4,000 COVID infections. The prime minister failed to heed that warning.
“Forty days later. when he finally decided to announce a longer four-week national lockdown –those figures had increased to 326 deaths a day, and 22,000 COVID cases.
“That is the human cost of the government’s inaction.”
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He added that forty days later, a lockdown was introduced but only after there had been an increment to 326 deaths a day, and 22,000 coronavirus infections.
Sir Keir said: “That is the human cost of the Government’s inaction. And the impact on business – and jobs – will be severe.
“Make no mistake, the Chancellor’s name is all over this. His decision to block a circuit breaker, to dismiss it as a ‘blunt instrument’ and to pretend that you can protect the economy without controlling the virus will now mean that businesses have to close for longer, more people will lose their jobs, and the public finances will be worse than they needed to be.
“It makes me so angry and so frustrated that when the British people – and British businesses – have given so much and made so many sacrifices, they have been let down so badly by the Government.”
But Sir Keir has been criticised for his stern approach to a national lockdown.
TalkRadio’s Breakfast Show presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer took to Twitter to denounce the Labour leader’s criticism of the Government’s actions.
She wrote: “There will never be a lockdown that is enough for [Keir Starmer].”
Some Twitter users accused Sir Keir of politicising the pandemic instead of co-operating with other political parties.
One Twitter user said: “Now of all time parties should come together Keir Starmer uses it to try and score political points. He is an absolute waste of time.”
Another user added: “The Government’s handling of the pandemic leaves much to be desired, but the opposition’s’ political point scoring during a crisis in which tens of thousands of our citizens have lost their lives is utterly shameful.”
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