Starmer did not try to find isolation ‘get-out clause’ like PM – Reeves

The shadow chancellor also urged the Government to act to ensure essential services can keep running amid the ‘pingdemic’.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer did not try and find a “get-out clause” to avoid self-isolation like the Prime Minister and Chancellor, a senior member of his shadow cabinet has said.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak should be more focused on keeping public services running and shelves stocked in the midst of the so called “pingdemic” – which has seen more than 600,000 people in England and Wales forced to quarantine in the last week.

The pair were heavily criticised on Sunday after it emerged they planned to avoid isolating after being a close contact of Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who tested positive for the virus – by being part of a daily testing pilot scheme.

Boris Johnson
The Prime Minister is self-isolating following close contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive (House of Commons/PA)

A public backlash forced a retreat, meaning both the Prime Minister and Chancellor were self-isolating on “freedom day” when most legal restrictions were removed in England.

Labour leader Sir Keir was also forced to self-isolate on Wednesday after one of his children tested positive for Covid-19.

Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Ms Reeves said: “Keir Starmer is self-isolating and unlike the Prime Minister he self-isolated as soon as he was told he had to.

“He did not try to find a get-out clause like the Prime Minister did.

“I wish our Prime Minister and our Chancellor were more focused on ensuring our essential public services and our supermarkets can keep going rather than trying to help themselves get to PMQs in the Houses of Parliament.”

Ms Reeves also said there is a “real problem” of rising Covid cases across the UK, leading to an increase in the number of people self-isolating.

“It risks supermarket shelves not being properly stacked,” she warned.

“The Government need to do more to work with business to ensure essential public services and businesses that are essential for all of us can keep going.

“At the moment the Government seem to be more concerned about getting themselves out of the Test and Trace system than they are about ensuring that essential public services and essential businesses can keep going.”

The shadow chancellor visited Peak Scientific, near Glasgow, to launch the party’s strategy for economic growth, including procurement reform for public contracts.

A Labour government, Ms Reeves said, would look to ensure public contracts procure goods from British businesses in an effort to boost the economy following the pandemic.

She said: “We are here today in Scotland with (Scottish Labour leader) Anas Sarwar to talk about how we can get our economy firing on all cylinders, including here in Scotland, with a plan to buy, make and sell more in Scotland and across the whole United Kingdom so that we can recover from this pandemic and create more good jobs that pay people a wage they can afford to support a family on.”

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