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UK coronavirus live: Angela Rayner attacks Boris Johnson at PMQs over testing and care homes UK coronavirus live: Angela Rayner attacks Boris Johnson at PMQs over testing and care homes
(32 minutes later)
News updates: Labour leader out of self-isolation but not in time for PMQs; testing shortage could lead to ‘lockdown by default’, says teaching union headNews updates: Labour leader out of self-isolation but not in time for PMQs; testing shortage could lead to ‘lockdown by default’, says teaching union head
A trip to Doncaster Races has been blamed for a cluster of coronavirus cases in the Rhondda Valley, south Wales, as restrictions were tightened severely.
The Welsh government said one of the clusters in the area was associated “with a club outing to the Doncaster races, which stopped off at a series of pubs on the way”.
More than 2,500 spectators were allowed into the first day of the meeting last week.
Other clusters are associated with a rugby club and pub in the lower Rhondda.
A range of new measures will come into force from 6pm tomorrow.
People will not be allowed to enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council area without a reasonable excuse;
People will only be able to meet outdoors for the time being. People will not be able to meet members of their extended household indoors or form an extended household;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm.
The Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
The latest figures show the rolling seven-day new case rate is 82.1 per 100,000 people in Rhondda Cynon Taf. Yesterday, the testing positivity rate was 4.3% – this is the highest positivity rate in Wales.
Contact tracing teams have been able to trace about half of the cases back to a series of clusters in the borough. The rest are linked to community transmission.
From Joanna Cherry, the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokesperson in the Commons:
This is from the BBC’s Glenn Campbell.
If Lord Keen of Elie is resigning as advocate general for Scotland, and a Ministry of Justice spokesperson in the House of Lords, it may have something to do with Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, telling a committee this morning that something Keen said yesterday was just plain wrong. (See 10.07am.)
Angela Rayner went into PMQs with much expected of her, at least from her own side. Although Sir Keir Starmer has mostly dominated in his exchanges with Boris Johnson, he has been judicious in what he has said, leading to mutterings that Labour needs to be more aggressive and hard-hitting, a tone Rayner was always likely to be more comfortable adopting. Johnson cannot patronise her as a north London lawyer. And many observers think he is uncomfortable facing women at the dispatch box (an assessment accepted so widely that Emily Thornberry made it central to her leadership campaign).
In the event Rayner was refreshingly different, and perfectly creditable, but she did not deliver the drubbing may have been hoping for and Johnson ended the session effectively unscathed. It was not a heroic performance by the PM, and the encounter was more or less a draw, but given how things have been going for him recently at the dispatch box, that counts as a good result.
Like most events on TV that attract strong feelings among viewers, PMQs is harder than it looks, and experience matters, and that probably explains why Rayner did not deliver a knock-out. Her opening line about someone called Keir who could not go go work was lovely but it was a lead-in to a gotcha question (how much do care workers earn?), and to be effective those have to be relatively quick; her spiel went on for too long, allowing Johnson to use up most of his reply engaging with her other points before you noticed that he had not answered the question.
She caught him out with the Care England chief executive’s quote, but at that point you wanted to hear Johnson pressed on why his understanding of what was happening did not square with reality. She later accused Johnson of saying the testing crisis was all the public’s fault when any fair-minded observer would have concluded that that was not he was saying. (There’s a difference between attributing cause and attributing blame.) And although it was interesting to hear the rule of six grouse shooting exemption raised, Rayner’s question should have been reframed. She asked why it was the government’s top priority, but most people will realise it wasn’t. The question is why shooting should have qualified for any exemption at all.
There possibly is some mileage in a class attack on Johnson and his cabinet, but the Red Wall voters did not seem too bothered about his Eton pedigree at the last election and Rayner did not really pull it off this afternoon. But what was striking, though, was having someone who has worked a care worker at the dispatch box up against the PM. There is potential in that, worth exploiting more next time she’s here.
Johnson was better than he has been in recent weeks partly because he dropped his ludicrous attempt to brand Labour as a party of IRA-loving remainers and towards the end he actually seemed relieved by how it had went. He concluded with his familiar tribute to the common sense of the British people, and how that was how coronavirus was going to be defeated. It was half-persuasive the first time he tried it but less so now because last week Johnson explicitly said at his press conference last week that government could not just trust people to “take responsibility for their own health” because they did not understand the risks. He is still struggling to reconcile his innate libertarianism with sensible public health policy.
Nicola Sturgeon has warned that it is “highly likely that cases of serious illness and death will rise in the weeks to come” if community transmission of coronavirus continues, emphasising how important it is for people to limit their interactions “as much as possible to stem that spread”.Nicola Sturgeon has warned that it is “highly likely that cases of serious illness and death will rise in the weeks to come” if community transmission of coronavirus continues, emphasising how important it is for people to limit their interactions “as much as possible to stem that spread”.
At her media briefing, Scotland’s first minister said that there were 267 positive tests yesterday, along with one death, adding that “cases are rising and we absolutely can’t afford to be complacent about that”.At her media briefing, Scotland’s first minister said that there were 267 positive tests yesterday, along with one death, adding that “cases are rising and we absolutely can’t afford to be complacent about that”.
National Records of Scotland published its weekly report today, confirming five deaths mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate between 7 and 13 September, two of which occurred in a care home and three in a hospital.National Records of Scotland published its weekly report today, confirming five deaths mentioning Covid-19 on the death certificate between 7 and 13 September, two of which occurred in a care home and three in a hospital.
As at 13 September, a total of 4,236 deaths by this measure have been registered in Scotland.As at 13 September, a total of 4,236 deaths by this measure have been registered in Scotland.
The NRS also published analysis which found that, after adjusting for age, people in the most deprived areas were over twice as likely to die with Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas. People living in larger urban areas were over four times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those in remote rural locations.The NRS also published analysis which found that, after adjusting for age, people in the most deprived areas were over twice as likely to die with Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas. People living in larger urban areas were over four times more likely to die with Covid-19 than those in remote rural locations.
At the briefing, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish government’s economy secretary, said that she was writing again to the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to extend the furlough scheme beyond next month.At the briefing, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish government’s economy secretary, said that she was writing again to the UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, asking him to extend the furlough scheme beyond next month.
The SNP’s Martyn Day asks what Johnson will do to honour the promise he made last year to take a fresh look at the plight of the Waspi women.The SNP’s Martyn Day asks what Johnson will do to honour the promise he made last year to take a fresh look at the plight of the Waspi women.
Johnson says he will look at this.Johnson says he will look at this.
And that’s it. PMQs is over.And that’s it. PMQs is over.
Dehenna Davison (Con) asks if the government will take all steps necessary to cut crime.Dehenna Davison (Con) asks if the government will take all steps necessary to cut crime.
Johnson says it will. It is recruiting more police officers and toughening sentences for serious offenders.Johnson says it will. It is recruiting more police officers and toughening sentences for serious offenders.
Stephen Doughty (Lab) says problems with testing in Wales originate in England. The government is incompetent. When will the PM get a grip?Stephen Doughty (Lab) says problems with testing in Wales originate in England. The government is incompetent. When will the PM get a grip?
Johnson says the opposition is being too negative. The system is continuing to improve. The average distance people have to travel is coming down. More people are being tested than in the rest of Europe. Labour just wants to score political points, he says.Johnson says the opposition is being too negative. The system is continuing to improve. The average distance people have to travel is coming down. More people are being tested than in the rest of Europe. Labour just wants to score political points, he says.
Johnson says the government will work as hard as possible to remove the current restrictions. But to do that, people have to continue to follow the rules.Johnson says the government will work as hard as possible to remove the current restrictions. But to do that, people have to continue to follow the rules.
Rachael Maskell (Lab) asks if the government will extend the furlough scheme.Rachael Maskell (Lab) asks if the government will extend the furlough scheme.
Johnson says he hopes she is not saying the existing scheme should just be extended. (She signals she isn’t - Labour says it wants to extended only for certain sectors.) He says the government will continue to look at creative ways of keeping people in work.Johnson says he hopes she is not saying the existing scheme should just be extended. (She signals she isn’t - Labour says it wants to extended only for certain sectors.) He says the government will continue to look at creative ways of keeping people in work.
Steve Double (Con) asks about regional airports, which he says have been hit by the closure of Flybe.Steve Double (Con) asks about regional airports, which he says have been hit by the closure of Flybe.
Johnson says the government will continue to consider applications for public service requirements. And it will continue to consider the case for cutting air passenger duty, although he can’t make a commitment now, he says.Johnson says the government will continue to consider applications for public service requirements. And it will continue to consider the case for cutting air passenger duty, although he can’t make a commitment now, he says.
Joy Morrissey (Con) asks if the PM agrees the internal market bill will protect the UK.Joy Morrissey (Con) asks if the PM agrees the internal market bill will protect the UK.
Johnson says he could not have put it better himself.Johnson says he could not have put it better himself.
(He probably did. It sounded like a question drafted in No 10.)(He probably did. It sounded like a question drafted in No 10.)
Ian Byrne (Lab) asks about food poverty, and if the government will write a right to food into law.
Johnson quotes the help being given to councils, and says a £9bn programme of welfare support has been introduced.
Selaine Saxby (Con) asks about the roll-out of full-fibre broadband in Devon.
Johnson says it is being rolled out for 70,000 households in Saxby’s constituency.
Alistair Carmichael (Lib Dem) says Brandon Lewis said last week the internal market bill would break international law. Yesterday the advocate general for Scotland said Lewis was wrong. Today Lewis said the advocate general was wrong. Will the government publish its legal advice so we can know who’s right?
Johnson say the government does not publish its legal advice.
Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, says three-quarters of families with disabled children had their care support cut during lockdown. As the father of a disabled child, he has seen legal advice saying the government broke international law in the way the Coronavirus Act dealt with the rights of disabled people.
Johnson says he is not aware of these claims, but he will write to Davey about them.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, says as a Telegraph columnist Johnson said devolution would allow the Scots to make their own laws while “freeloading” on British taxpayers. It was unjust, Johnson said. Does he still think that? And were should powers be held?
Johnson says there has been a massive devolution of powers. But the Scots voted to reject independence. Now they have the opportunity to vote for more devolution in the internal market bill, he says.
Blackford says the PM does not remember what he has written. And he does not know what is in the bill. Clause 46 allows Westminster to bypass the Scottish parliament. He claims Tory MPs know Johnson is incompetent and want him away by the time of the next election.
Johnson says he cannot tell from Blackford’s question whether he supports the union or not. He says the internal market bill will give the Scottish parliament a “surge” of powers in 70 areas.
Johnson says the government is allocating “considerable sums” for schools in the south-west of England.
Rayner says we have the highest death toll in Europe. We are “staring down the barrel of a second wave”. And what was the top priority of the Covid war cabinet? Restoring grouse shooting. That probably suits the PM’s friend who paid for his holiday and owns two grouse estates. Is that really his top priority?
Johnson says Labour is raising issues that are “tangential” and scare stories. He says Rayner has not disputed the statistics he mentioned. He says the government is getting on with delivering its agenda, and defending the union. He says no one is in any doubt that this government is facing some of the most difficult dilemmas any government has had to face. But it is solving them thanks to the common sense of the British people. It is with their common sense that the government will succeed.
Rayner says the PM is saying it is the public’s fault. The next time someone drives from London to Durham it will be for a Covid test.
She turns to the issue of mothers having to give birth without their partners. Even worse, some have had to endure miscarriages. Will the PM meet to discuss this issue?
Johnson says Rayner is right to raise this. He understands the point, and agrees. He says health ministers will meet Rayner to discuss this.
Rayner says just yesterday the chief executive of Care England said weekly tests for care home staff were not being delivered. Matt Hancock said it would take weeks to sort this out. But we don’t have weeks, she says.
Johnson says the government has delivered on the most through-going system in Europe. The number of tests has gone up to 240,000 per day. He quotes figures showing testing numbers are higher than Germany, France and Spain.
What has happened is that there has been “a huge, huge surge in demand”, he says.
People should follow the guidance.
Rayner says she welcomes what the PM says, but “get some skates on it”. The PM has put his faith on the moonshot. But on planet earth tests are not available. Do all care homes get weekly tests?
Yes, says Johnson, to the best of his knowledge. They should get weekly tests for staff, and tests every 28 days for residents.
There has been a colossal spike in the number of people trying to get a test, he says. Capacity has been increased. Four new labs are being built. He says he wants to get up to 500,000 tests per day by the end of October. He says the UK is testing more than any other European country.