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UK coronavirus live: Keir Starmer asks Boris Johnson to explain why he rejected Sage call for ‘circuit breaker’

Labour leader questions prime minister at PMQs; Northern Ireland tightens restrictions on hospitality sector and introduces bubbles of 10

  • Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown
  • England and Wales among highest per capita Covid death tolls
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Starmer says he has supported the government so far. He has taken criticism for it. But he has read the Sage advice, and he supports it. The Telegraph says the chances of the PM backing a circuit break are about 80%. If so, why doesn’t he do it now, and save lives.

Johnson again accuses Starmer of a U-turn. Everyone can see what Labour is doing. They see this as a good crisis for the Labour party. He sees it as a national crisis to be tackled. He says he is ruling nothing out. His strategy can turn this round, he says. He urges Labour to support it. He hopes that Starmer will “change his mind, and think the better of his actions”.

Starmer says he cannot think of a single scientist who backs the PM’s plan. The chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said on Monday he was not confident tier 3 measures would get the R rate below 1.

Johnson says Starmer is misrepresenting his position. He says if there is full and proper enforcement, and proper test and trace, then tier 3 measures will reduce the R number, locally and regionally, in order to avert what they want to see. He says Starmer has performed an extraordinary U-turn.

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