Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson has been an 'opportunist all his life' in brutal PMQs exchange

James Besanvalle
Wednesday 14 October 2020 12:00

Keir Starmer just launched a scathing attack on Boris Johnson during Wednesday’s PMQs, slamming him as “an opportunist all his life”.

The opposition leader was criticising the PM’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for a “circuit breaker” lockdown in England.

Things escalated when Johnson accused Starmer of changing his mind over whether or not to have a lockdown:

He says one thing at 5 o’clock about calling for a national lockdown [but] when it came to a vote in this House of Commons to impose more stringent measures, he failed even to turn up.

Starmer then shot back:

I know that for someone who has been an opportunist all his life, this is difficult to understand.

The chamber immediately erupted into a mix of cheers and grumbling.

Starmer added:

But having read and considered the SAGE advice, I have genuinely concluded that a circuit break is in the national interest. It’s the failure of the PM’s strategy that means tougher measures are now unavoidable.

SAGE has advised that a circuit breaker should act to reduce R below one, should reset the incidence of disease to a lower level and should set the epidemic back by approximately 28 days or more.

For reference, a “circuit break” is a short period, where tighter restrictions are brought in and the R number below one simply means it's less likely to spread or get out of hand.

The exchange caused many to side with Starmer for being guided by the science:

During PMQs, Starmer also jibed at the PM to “keep up” and accused him of being “behind the curve” over politicians in the north supporting a circuit break.