Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to reveal its strategy for exiting the coronavirus lockdown this week.
In a letter to Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from COVID-19, Sir Keir said that although millions of Britons had stuck to the rules, they “need a sense of what comes next”.
He called on ministers to be “open and transparent” about how the stringent coronavirus restrictions – brought in by the PM on 23 March – will come to an end.
But a government source said: “Talk of an exit strategy before we have reached the peak risks confusing the critical message that people need to stay at home in order to protect our NHS and save lives.”
Sir Keir said in his letter that Labour supported extending the lockdown, which the government is widely expected to do later this week.
But he told Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast that “mistakes were made” by ministers in the lockdown planning and speed it came into force.
He urged the government to publish its lockdown strategy because “transparency is the best way” to maintaining trust.
“Plans need to be in place sooner rather than later, he said.
“Science in the end can’t tell you what the political strategy is for coming out of lockdown, because that involves political decisions as well as scientific decisions.
“If we can get a consensus that this is the right strategy going forward, I think that will give trust to the public as well.”
To that end, Sir Keir called on Mr Raab to commit to laying out the criteria the government will use to inform how and when it intends to ease the lockdown; to publish the exit strategy now or in the coming week; and to set out which sectors and core public services are most likely to see restrictions eased.
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Responding to the letter, a government source said: “Our strategy is focused on saving lives.
“We have been clear that all decisions will be guided by the scientific advice and data.
“Talk of an exit strategy before we have reached the peak risks confusing the critical message that people need to stay at home in order to protect our NHS and save lives.”