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Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of causing a collapse in public confidence over the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis – and told him to “get a grip”.
In a Guardian interview, Starmer launched a scathing attack on the prime minister over the easing of the lockdown restrictions such as reopening schools and relaxing shielding advice.
He said Johnson had made a “difficult situation 10 times worse” by carrying out “an exit without strategy”, and that the government would be directly responsible if the infection rate rose again.
“There is a growing concern the government is now winging it,” he said.
“At precisely the time when there should have been maximum trust in the government, confidence has collapsed.”
Johnson is set to face Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday for the first time since news of Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip broke.
The prime minister will likely be grilled over his support for his senior adviser, which Starmer said had resulted in public trust in the government being “burnt”.
He warned Johnson’s “mismanagement” of the lockdown easing risked a second wave of infections.
“I am putting the prime minister on notice that he has got to get a grip and restore public confidence in the government’s handling of the epidemic,” he said.
“If we see a sharp rise in the R rate, the infection rate, or a swathe of local lockdowns, responsibility for that falls squarely at the door of No 10.
“We all know the public have made huge sacrifices. This mismanagement of the last few weeks is the responsibility of the government.”
On Tuesday official figures showed the number of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic passed 50,000 for the first time.