Coronavirus: New Labour leader Keir Starmer promises to 'work constructively' with Boris Johnson

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Sir Keir Starmer, right, has promised to 'work constructively' with Boris Johnson. (PA/file image)

New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has promised to “work constructively” with Boris Johnson during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Immediately after his election on Saturday, Sir Keir called Johnson and offered his help “on how best to respond” to the outbreak.

He also accepted Johnson’s invitation to meet with opposition party leaders next week, with the prime minister having called for all parties to “work together at this moment of national emergency”.

A spokesman for Sir Keir said: “This afternoon Keir Starmer spoke with the PM about the current national emergency.

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“Keir offered to work constructively with the government on how best to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, accepted the PM’s offer to meet next week and agreed arrangements for Privy Council briefings and discussions.”

Johnson said of the call:

Sir Keir was elected with a commanding 56.2% of the 490,731 votes cast by party members.

Though he subsequently agreed to work with Johnson, Sir Keir had also warned in his first statement following his election: “At times like this, we need good government, a government that saves lives and protects our country.

“It’s a huge responsibility and whether we voted for this government or not, we all rely on it to get this right.”

Johnson’s government has come under increasing fire over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, with questions raised about issues such as testing and protective equipment for frontline NHS staff.

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New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in profile