Andrew Neil WARNING: Boris told to ‘raise his game’ with new opposition after PMQs clash

The veteran BBC broadcaster praised Sir Keir for his measured and informed performance at the dispatch box as he pressed Mr Raab on COVID-19 testing and the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for NHS staff on the coronavirus frontline. Mr Neil wrote on Twitter: “After today’s exchanges at PMQs it is clear that the United Kingdom now has a functioning, probing, measured, informed Official Opposition.

“The Government will need to raise its game.”

Sir Keir and Mr Raab took part in the historic virtual PMQs from inside the chamber with up to 50 MPs spaced around the Commons to adhere to social distancing measures.

More than 100 other parliamentarians joined the session via a video link to question the Secretary of State.

At PMQs the Foreign Secretary, who was deputising for Mr Johnson, clashed with the Labour leader from the get-go over the Government’s target of reaching 100,000 COVID-19 tests before the end of the month.

The pair got caught-up in a fierce debate when Mr Raab challenged Sir Keir on his figures in relation to coronavirus testing.

Sir Keir fired back and insisted he did not need to be corrected as his numbers were accurate.

The Labour leader said: “We have been very slow and way behind other European countries.

“The Health Secretary made a very important commitment to 100,000 tests a day by the end of April, but yesterday the figure for actual tests was 18,000 a day and that was down from Monday, which was 19,000 tests a day.

“We’re way behind the curve and the end of the month is a week tomorrow.

“So, what does the First Secretary expect to happen in the next eight days to get us from 18,000 tests a day to 100,000 tests a day?”

In response, Mr Raab said: “I do have to correct him.

“Our capacity is now 40,000 tests a day so I think that is an important milestone.

“Of course he right to say that in the final week that will require a big increase but of course with a project like this it does require an exponential increase in the final days and week of the programme.”


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Sir Keir then added: “I didn’t need correcting, because I gave the figure for the actual tests a day.”

Later during the fiery exchange, Mr Raab insisted the Government was making “good progress” in reaching the 100,000 coronavirus testing target and highlighted the shortcomings Labour has overseen in Wales.

He said: “We are making good progress, we’re confident we’ll meet it, and I think that he should join with me as we engage in this national effort of saying to Labour’s Welsh health minister, Vaughan Gething, who has abandoned the Welsh target in Labour-run Wales of 5,000.

“That actually we need to work together in all four corners of the United Kingdom to make sure we reach that national effort.

“It is about capacity, it is about distribution. We will only be able to hit that target if all of us come together to deliver on it.”

This evening Department for Health has confirmed the total number of coronavirus deaths in the UK has increased by 763 in the past 24 hours.

As of 5pm on Tuesday the total number of fatalities has increased from 17,337 to 18,100.

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