09:13 GMT23 January 2021
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    Sir Keir Starmer assumes the Labour leadership, taking over from Jeremy Corbyn, at a really challenging time, as the whole world is struggling to stamp out an infectious disease and the tremendous economic fallout of what the WHO declared a pandemic last month.

    Newly-elected Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has taken a dig at Boris Johnson's handling of the coronavirus crunch, arguing the prime minister, who has been staying at home after being diagnosed with COVID-19, made “serious mistakes", as he put it in a column for The Sunday Times.

    As the head of the shadow cabinet, who took office on Saturday, is set to announce his team, he said he is willing to engage “constructively” with the government during the ongoing epidemic. He lashed out at ministers for their overly “slow” reaction to complaints about the UK being “far behind” other countries in terms of testing for the contagious disease.

    “There will be many times when, and there are many issues upon which, I will fundamentally disagree with the prime minister", Starmer wrote, continuing to stress that now is somewhat different:

    “However, there will also be times when Labour can - and must - engage constructively with the government. Now is such a time", he wrote.

    He portrayed the raging virus as a national emergency, suggesting it is also "a global emergency".

    As everyone is concerned about what the next few months will bring, “we know we must be resolute in our determination to see this virus defeated, as it will be", Starmer said arguing that Labour would “do our bit to offer solutions" but would also “speak for those who have been ignored”, and expose whatever mistakes “to ensure that they are rectified as soon as possible".

    “And let's be honest, serious mistakes have been made", he acknowledged, arguing that it is vital that the public trust be met with “openness and transparency about those mistakes and the decisions that have been made", further dwelling on the importance of across the board vaccination centres, the plan for economic recovery, etc. as parts of a comprehensive crisis exit strategy.

    Johnson yesterday wrote to the leaders of opposition parties inviting them to work with him during the coronavirus shutdown. The PM has invited the leaders to a briefing set to be held one of these days to talk with them about the details of the government's response.

    According to updated WHO statistics, the UK has registered 38,172 corona cases, with fatalities amounting to 3,605.

    Severe financial crises have been sweeping across the globe, due to disrupted long-standing economic networks with small and medium businesses, and the whole of the service sector bearing the brunt of the blow.


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