Keir Starmer has lashed out at the government for being “too slow to act” throughout the coronavirus pandemic in a scathing attack.
Writing in The Guardian, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras has warned the nation is at a “crucial point” in the pandemic – and said Britain faces “a long and bleak winter” if immediate steps were not taken to ensure the country was better prepared for a second wave.
The Labour leader blasted the Government’s lack of clear communication throughout the crisis, and said its Test and Trace programme needs rapid improvement.
He wrote: “On the occasions that the government has acted at pace, it has too often done so without a clear plan.
“Trying to get answers and clarity from the prime minister is a frustrating experience.
“His repeated refusal to accept that test and trace isn’t functioning properly is a roadblock to fixing the issues and restoring public confidence.”
The NHS Test and Trace programme has recently come under fire for not reaching enough people who have tested positive or their close contacts.
Researchers have warned that the system in its current state would not be enough to stave off a second wave in the winter.
Sir Keir also stressed that reopening schools for the new term must be a priority and further steps needed to be taken to ensure the NHS was ready to cope with another potential spike in infections.
“Any steps the government makes to regain the trust of the British people will have Labour’s full support,” he wrote.
“But the reality is that if the government doesn’t use this summer wisely, focusing on driving down the rate of infection, Britain faces a long and bleak winter.”
It comes amid warnings that UK schools face a “monumental crisis” if there is a second lockdown, because the government’s track and trace system isn’t up to scratch.
Ministers have again insisted classrooms will return “in full” in just four weeks’ time, despite regional flare-ups.
Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green told the Mirror: “Labour has repeatedly warned that an effective test, trace and isolate regime is vital for schools to reopen safely, but staff and parents are being let down by ministers.
“With infection rates rising and new local restrictions in some areas, the Government must urgently prioritise getting the necessary resources and data to local authorities to support local testing and tracing.”