Home News 'Britons want to know!' Boris rages at Starmer's claim PM 'deflecting' from...

'Britons want to know!' Boris rages at Starmer's claim PM 'deflecting' from COVID-19

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Addressing the Commons on Tuesday, Boris Johnson announced he will merge the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development to create a new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. But Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the Prime Minister of making the statement to “deflect” from the coronavirus pandemic. Sir Keir said: “We should see this statement for what it is, the tactics of pure distraction.”

He added: “A few hours ago the ONS figures showed a fall of 600,000 people on the payroll. The economy contracted by 20% in April and we could be on a verge of the return to mass unemployment, something we’ve not seen for a generation.

“We’ve also one of the highest death rolls from Covid-19 in the world, at least 41,700 deaths and likely to be far greater than that.

“And in the last hour the Government has u-turned on free school meals.”

Mr Starmer said: “This statement is intended to deflect attention from all of that and can I assure the Prime Minister it will not work.”

To which Mr Johnson hit back: “If the Right Honourable Gentleman does not want a statement in the House about an important Whitehall reform then I think he misrepresents the use of the House.

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“It’s very, very important that we should make these statements and I’m very, very proud of what we are doing.

“Anybody who has any experience of the matter will know that at the moment UK overseas we are less than the some of our part.”

He added: “It is absolutely vital that we have a coherent joined message for our international partners and that we speak with one voice.

“And at a time when the UK is spending £15 billion on overseas aid, I think the British people will want to know what we are doing right now to make that spending more efficient.

“And they will want to know what we are doing to ensure that the UK is supporting the campaign to develop a vaccine against coronavirus.

“And I’m very proud of what the UK is doing. I think it’s fantastic that we secured $8.8 billion at the recent summit to develop a vaccine.”

Sir Keir Starmer also said the UK cannot play a leading role in the world by abolishing Dfid.

He said: “I passionately believe in Britain, I am proud of this country, I want to see it playing a leading global role again, a role we frankly haven’t played in the last decade.

“I want to see Britain as a moral force for good in the world, a force for global justice and co-operation, leading the world on global security, leading the global search for a vaccine, leading the fight against poverty, climate change and gender inequality.

“We don’t achieve that by abolishing one of the best performing and important departments.”

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During his announcement, the Prime Minister told the Commons: “We must now strengthen our position in an intensely competitive world by making sensible changes.

“And so I have decided to merge Dfid with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to create a new department … the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.”

Boris Johnson said the UK will need to work alongside allies to strengthen international bodies, such as the World Health Organisation, to help other countries improve their health systems.

He told the Commons: “It makes no sense to ask whether this amounts to aid or foreign policy.

“They’re one and the same endeavour and they’re designed to achieve the same goals – which are right in themselves and serve our national interest.”



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