Labour leader Keir Starmer has hit out at Boris Johnson after a surge in the Delta variant saw the UK record the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Europe, according to a Oxford University-based research platform.
Sir Keir told Mr Johnson the British people had done “their bit”, by following the rules and getting a vaccination. “But the prime minister squandered it by letting a new variant into the country that was not inevitable, “ he said, “it was the consequence of his indecision.”
“We learned today that tragically once again the UK has the highest infection rate in Europe,” he added.
Labour sources pointed to the platform ‘Our World in Data’, which showed that 107.3 people per million in the UK tested positive for the virus on average per day in the last week.
The UK is now ahead of more than 40 other European countries included in the statistics.
Earlier this week ministers announced they would have to delay plans to fully reopen society in England for a month, because of the surge in the Delta strain.
A race is now on try to get millions more vaccines into arms before the new deadline of 19 June.
Labour have accused the prime minister of allowing the strain, first identified in India, into the UK because of his desire to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the country.
The party says tougher restrictions on travel from India could have prevented the variant gaining such a foothold in the UK.
At Prime Minister’s Questions Sir Keir said: “We all want.. our economy to be open, for businesses to thrive – but the Prime Minister’s indecision at the borders has blown it.”
Boris Johnson could be heard shouting “rubbish” before the Labour leader added: “And the problem with everything the prime minister says today, both at the despatch box and what he’s muttered, is that we’ve heard it all before so many times.
“Last March he said we could turn the tide in 12 weeks, remember that? Then he said it’d all be over by Christmas. Then we were told June 21 would be ‘freedom day’. Now we’re told July 19 is ‘terminus day’.
“The British people don’t expect miracles but they do expect basic competence and honesty, and when it comes to care homes, protective equipment or borders, we see the same pattern from this Prime Minister – too slow, too indecisive, over-promising, under-delivering.
“After all these failures and mistakes, why should anyone believe the Prime Minister now?”