Starmer demands ‘adult conversation’ from Boris over COVID-19 exit plan as PM returns

The Labour leader wrote the Prime Minister in a fresh call for the Government to plot a coherent COVID-19 exit strategy as the UK death toll surpasses 20,000. Mr Starmer said Britons deserve an adult conversation over what they face next as European neighbours reveal plans to lift lockdown restrictions. He blasted Mr Johnson’s communication with the nation as not credible and said the government needs to plan and invest in infrastructure early.

He wrote: “Simply acting as if this discussion is not happening is not credible, especially when other governments and our own devolved administrations have been able to communicate so much more.

“The British public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work.

“They deserve to be part of an adult conversation about what comes next.

“If we want to take people with us and secure their consent, this is necessary now. This is a national crisis and therefore needs a national response.

“The coming weeks require urgent preparation and planning from the Government.

“We have already seen the consequences of poor planning and preparation. That cannot happen again."

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However, foreign secretary Dominic Raab has refuted the calls, labelling the pandemic as a ”delicate and dangerous” stage of the coronavirus spread.

Mr Raab, who has been deputising for Mr Johnson while he recovered from the virus, said the Government was sticking to scientific advice on social distancing measures.

He added the Government would proceed “cautiously” with lockdown measures set until 7 May after they were extended for a further three-weeks on 16 April.

Mr Raab also swept aside Mr Starmer’s calls for a coronavirus exit strategy.

He said: "We are at a delicate and dangerous stage.


"We need to make sure that the next steps are sure-footed, which is why we are proceeding very cautiously and we are sticking to the scientific advice with the social-distancing measures at this time, whilst doing all the homework to make sure that we are prepared in due course for the next phase."

Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed she would diverge from other parts of the UK and lift lockdown measures if needed, but stressed the decision would not be “political in any way, shape or form".

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Speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, she said she hasn’t fully supported the UK government’ response to the crisis.

She said: "If, and it is an if, I'm not saying that we're likely to get in to this territory, the UK Government took decisions that I thought were premature in terms of coming out of the lockdown then clearly I would want to make sure that Scotland did what I judged was best to protect the population."

Earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon published a paper setting out the Scottish government’s framework for how a lockdown could be lifted in future.

In it, she urged Scots to be prepared for a new reality after lockdown as the nations sets about “rebuilding, and look seriously at social and economic reform”.

Elsewhere, fears are rising over the long-term health impact of NHS frontline workers.

The coronavirus pandemic could leave a generation of “burnt out” nurses who abandon the profession after the crisis, say academics.

In light of this, researchers from the universities of Southampton and Surrey are building guidance on psychological and mental health needs of nursing staff to help them cope with the emotional drain of working on the frontline.

Jill Maben, professor of health services research and nursing at the University of Surrey, said: "If we are to avoid a generation of burnt-out nurses, their physiological, psychological and safety needs must be prioritised.

"Nurses injured by stress may be the last to recognise it; they are 'wired' to look after others and not self and they therefore need colleagues, friends and managers to remind them to think of themselves.

"If nursing staff are not supported during this time, there is the danger that once this is all over they will leave the profession, which will put enormous strain on an already overstretched health service."

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