Keir Starmer ‘baffled’ by PM’s coronavirus comparison reluctance

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer has once again criticised the government for its attitude towards international coronavirus comparisons.

During PMQs, the Labour leader accused Boris Johnson of ceasing to compare Covid-19 death tolls once the number of UK deaths became the highest in Europe.

Holding up a government graph, Mr Starmer said: “A version of this slide has been shown at the Number 10 press conference every day since March 30… yesterday the government stopped publishing international comparisons and the slide is gone. Why?

The Prime Minister said international comparisons were “premature” because the UK did not yet have the data for excess death tolls for all the relevant countries.

“I’m not going to try to pretend to the house that the figures, when they are confirmed to the House, are anything other than stark and deeply, deeply horrifying. This has been an appalling epidemic,” Mr Johnson said.

He added: “I think people do understand what we are trying to do as a country and as for the international comparisons that he seeks to draw now, I think he will have to contain his impatience.”

But Sir Keir replied: “I’m baffled. It’s not me that is seeking the comparisons, these are the slides that have been used by the government for seven weeks to reassure the public.”

He added: “It’s pretty obvious that for seven weeks when we weren’t the highest number in Europe they were used for comparison purposes. As soon as we hit that unenviable place, they’ve been dropped.”

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