'Almost criminal' coronavirus testing isn't available for everyone, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown says

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the government's testing numbers "criminal" as he urged for "more than 200,000" coronavirus tests to be carried.

Speaking on ITV's Peston Show, the ex-Labour PM slammed the number of tests being carried out, demanding that the public deserves better reassurance.

In response to ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston's questions about whether he felt the level of testing has been ramped up enough, Mr Brown asked: "Why is it the case that every resident and every care worker is not being tested?

"It seems to me almost criminal that you've got to a stage where people are dying and where the only time that testing comes in apart from the random testing, is when people identify someone who's a carrier of the disease."

Mr Brown continued: "You've got to test before, because people have no symptoms and they're passing on the disease."

"So you've got to have prior testing, and every old people's home, every care worker, every health service worker, every person who's a frontline, making contact with the public, they've got to be tested over the next few weeks."

When asked if he felt it was the right time for the Chancellor to be talking about rolling back on government's support payments, Mr Brown said: "I do fear, and this is where again I want to be constructive because the government has got to act on this, in the next few months, the banks will bring down large numbers of companies because they will not be able to keep them in finance."

"Remember, we've been lending people money, and that money has got to be paid back," he added.

While discussing how more people could soon return to work, Mr Brown said: "You can't solve the problems of capacity and testing equipment, ventilators, without some sort of global agreement that you raise capacity, you can't prevent the poorest countries unable to cope with this disease, the disease then comes back into the advanced economies."

Mr Brown also commented on the fact this is a global pandemic and it will only go away in the future if all countries collectively work together.

He continued: "You've got to help the poorest economies so that they are not the carriers of the disease for the future."

Asked to rate Labour's new leader Keir Starmer marks out of ten so far, he said: "Ten, he's doing a brilliant job… Court room or theatre, either way I think Keir Starmer's going to win the argument with Boris Johnson."

Meanwhile Conservative MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker, told Robert Peston there is "no room to be cavalier" about health or the economy amid the ongoing pandemic.

He told ITV News' Political Editor that the Prime Minister needs to be "bold with his actions" and questions whether the lockdown has been effective and has it got 'R' down below one or was it already below one beforehand.

When asked about what he wanted to see from the government in terms of easing restrictions, Mr Baker said: "I want to see the government go as free with the measures as they can to get our economy back on track even if that means U-turns, shameless U-turns, to get us back."

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the government has had to prioritise testing in the NHS in March before adding: "We'd love to have the diagnostic strategy that Germany had."

When asked why testing wasn't ramped up sooner, the Lord Chancellor said: "Concentrating on the NHS was the right thing to do. There was plenty going on, the development in the private sector, ramping up research on antibody."

He added: "The clock has been ticking very loudly since March, I'm not going to pretend it's been easy. I think the PM will want to keep ramping up the testing."

Mr Buckland also said that the changes to the courts will be a "slow build" before sentencing and trials can continue.

He said: "We'll have to use two courts" to allow for everyone to adhere to social distancing rules.

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