British Lawmakers Grill Government on COVID-19 Response

The new opposition leader in the British Parliament accused the government Wednesday of being slow in every aspect of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.New opposition Labor Party Leader Keir Starmer made the comments during a “hybrid” session of Parliament, with half the members participating through videoconference and the members who were present practicing social distancing.FILE – Keir Starmer of Britain’s opposition Labor Party delivers a speech in Harlow, England, Nov. 5, 2019.”Something is going wrong,” Starmer claimed, adding that Britain was “slow into lockdown, slow on testing, slow on protective equipment, and now slow to take up these offers (of private help) from British firms.”Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, appearing on behalf of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from COVID-19, refused to accept Starmer’s accusations. He said the government acted under the guidance of the nation’s top scientific and medical advisers.Starmer noted a survey of the nation’s nursing staff that found half of them felt pressured to work without proper protective gear. He asked Raab to tell those frontline workers when they might expect to get the equipment they need.Raab said the entire world has been dealing with the kind of shortages Starmer described, and Britain accomplished a huge effort to get what health workers needed. He said if they had not, the British National Health Service would not have been able to cope.Britain is in its fourth week of lockdown, with all nonessential businesses closed, and strict rules around social distancing and leaving the house.

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