Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for ‘gross incompetence’ leading to restrictions

Prime minister sidesteps question by reiterating plan to keep economy going while suppressing spread of virus

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 22 September 2020 13:54 BST
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Boris Johnson refuses to apologise for ‘gross incompetence’ leading to restrictions

Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for the government’s “gross incompetence” as the prime minister announced new restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking in the Commons, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Edward Davey, asked the prime minister to apologise for its failures in the Test & Trace system and its lack of clear communication.

He said: "There was one major omission from the prime minister’s statement: an apology.

“So will the government now apologise for gross incompetence over testing, over tracing, over clear communications that have led to these latest restrictions on people’s daily lives?”

The prime minister avoided addressing Mr Davey’s question by talking about the government’s plan to keep the economy going while suppressing the spread of the virus.

After asking the prime minister to apologise, Mr Davey asked how the government would support those who could imminently lose their jobs and businesses.

Mr Johnson replied by saying the plan was to “continue to keep the economy moving" while suppressing the R number, or rate of infection, through the government’s newly announced restrictions.

He asked: “That is our policy, does he support it?”

In his address to the Commons, Mr Johnson warned the UK was at a “perilous turning point” in the battle against the coronavirus.

He said the government was abandoning efforts to get more workers back into officers, ordered wider use of face masks and imposed a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.

He also warned the new curbs could last for six months, taking them well beyond Christmas and into next year, "unless we palpably make progress".

The prime minister also announced tougher enforcement measures, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply with coronavirus rules and people facing £200 penalties for failing to wear masks where required or breaching the "rule of six".

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