Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:01 pm on 3rd June 2020.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 12:01 pm, 3rd June 2020

The Prime Minister challenges me on the offer I made to him. This was a confidential letter. I think the best thing I can do is put it in the public domain, and the public can decide for themselves how constructive we are being.

Two weeks ago today at the Dispatch Box, the Prime Minister promised:

“we will have a test, track and trace operation that will be world-beating, and yes, it will be in place by 1 June.”—[Official Report, 20 May 2020;
Vol. 676, c. 568.]

But it is not, and a critical element—the ability of local authorities to respond to local spikes—is missing. As one council leader put it to us, “We are weeks away from having this fully up and running. We simply were not given enough warning.” [Interruption.] The Prime Minister mutters that it is not true. Dido Harding, the Prime Minister’s own chair of the track and trace system, has said that this element will not be ready until the end of June. The Prime Minister must have been briefed on this problem before he made that promise two weeks ago, so why did he make that promise?