Boris Johnson “simply isn’t up to the job”, Keir Starmer shot as he claimed the prime minister’s “serial incompetence” has cost lives and jobs.
The Labour leader said Mr Johnson’s government had “let down” the British people throughout the pandemic, whether that be through a reluctance to place the country in lockdown or through uncertainty over financial support.
Sir Keir, laying the groundwork for the next general election, told the nation that Labour could – just as Clement Attlee’s 1945 government built the welfare state – restore “pride and prosperity in every village, every town, every city” if elected.
He said: “Britain shouldn’t have one of the highest death tolls in Europe, and the deepest recession
“We shouldn’t be facing the slowest recovery and we shouldn’t be suffering the tragedy of so many deaths every day from this virus.
“That we are is a mark of the serial failures of this government, and how badly the British people have been let down.”
He added: “The indecision and delays of the prime minister cost lives and they cost people’s jobs.
“The British people will forgive many things. They know the pandemic is difficult.
“But they also know serial incompetence when they see it – and they know when a prime minister simply isn’t up to the job.”
Sir Keir used his speech on Monday morning to outline a number of policies, including a “flexible furlough” to help parents home school their children during the pandemic and a plan to increase universal credit and pay for key workers.
“I’m calling on the government today to put families first during this lockdown,” he said. “By backing local councils to prevent council tax rises; stopping any cut to Universal Credit; extending the ban on evictions and repossessions and giving our key workers the pay rise they deserve.”
New @OpiniumResearch approval ratings:
Approve: 38% (-)
Disapprove: 44% (-)
Net: -6 (-)
Approve: 40% (+3)
Disapprove: 25% (-)
Net: +15 (+3)
Fieldwork: 6-7 Jan 2021
Changes w/ 16-17 Dec 2020
— Josh (@JMagosh) January 9, 2021
Sir Keir’s speech came as a newly published Opinium survey found over 60% of Scots believe Mr Johnson should resign.
The survey shows strong support for Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership, with 43% approving of her role as party leader.
This compares with 37% at a UK level for Mr Johnson and 23% in Scotland, while Sir Keir is at 40% in the UK and 32% in Scotland.
Around 65% of people in Scotland disapprove of the way Mr Johnson has fulfilled his role as prime minister with 62% saying he should quit.