Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 12:48 pm, 22nd September 2020

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his support. I notice that it seems to come and go, but it seems to be here today. He criticises testing. He should know that, as I have told the House many times, this country is now testing more than any other country in Europe—one test for every five people. Actually, in spite of the massive increase in demand for testing, we have greatly increased the number of contacts reached from the indexed cases. He should pay tribute to those involved in the whole testing operation, in spite of all the difficulties they face.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentions the success of local lockdowns, and he is absolutely right to draw attention to what happened in Leicester. That was a heroic effort of local people, and it has happened in other parts of the country—local people pulling together to drive the virus down. That is what we hope to encourage throughout the country, and that is certainly part of our strategy. He asked what we are doing to support businesses, families and communities across the country, as though we had not already quite rightly spent £160 billion to support businesses, jobs and livelihoods across the country. We will continue to put our arms around the people of this country.

I am grateful, as I say, for what the right hon. and learned Gentleman says and the support, such as it is, that he has offered. However, I can tell him that, in putting forward that message of support, I hope he will also say to everybody in his constituency and elsewhere that this is a balanced and proportionate response to the crisis that we face. We are driving the virus down—that is our objective by these measures—but we are also, as I have said, keeping the vast majority of the UK economy going. That is our programme. That is what we intend to do. This is a package to drive down the R, but also to allow education and jobs and growth to continue. That is absolutely vital for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to understand, and I hope that, in his support, which I welcome, he will communicate that to the country as well.