Keir Starmer says need for new coronavirus restrictions are a 'failure of government' in televised address to the nation

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he supports the introduction of new coronavirus restrictions but said the need for them was down to a "failure of government" in a televised address to the nation.

Sir Keir demanded a "Plan B" to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The address was broadcast at 8pm on Wednesday by the BBC as a response to a similar address made by Boris Johnson a day earlier where he implored the nation to follow the coronavirus guidelines.

He stressed he supported all the new measures to combat the virus but said that although they “are now necessary, they were not inevitable" and their introduction was a “failure of Government”.

He said: “We need a ‘Plan B’ for the economy. It makes no sense to bring in new restrictions at the same time as phasing out support for jobs and businesses.”

Sir Keir praised the "sacrifices and heroism of the British people," but warned we weren't through the crisis yet.

He said: “The return of this virus, and the return of restrictions, are not an act of God.

“They’re a failure of Government.

“The British people have done everything asked of them.

“But I’m afraid the Government has not.

“We’re a great country.

“We shouldn’t have one of the highest death rates in the world, or one of the worst recessions.

The Labour leader also criticised the government's recent inability to keep up with demand for coronavirus tests.

He said: “It’s a national scandal that we still don’t have a testing system that works.

“People shouldn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to get a test for their child, for themselves or for their relatives.”

  • ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston interviews the Labour leader

In an interview with ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston he repeated his criticism of the government's testing regime.

He said: "My concern with what the prime minister's done is that at the very time we need testing to be exactly where it needs to be, it's near collapsed and while we're phasing in health measures we're phasing out economic support."