Boris Johnson has been accused of blaming the British people for chaos in the coronavirus testing system after he said a “colossal spike” in demand was causing delays.
At prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson insisted that the UK was testing more people than any other country in Europe, but urged families to comply with guidance about when to get a test to help the system deal with “a huge, huge surge” in requests.
But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner challenged his assertion that 240,000 tests are being conducted a day, pointing to leaked documents which suggested at the weekend that the true number of people tested daily was around 62,000.
She took a swipe at the PM’s top adviser Dominic Cummings as she raised cases of people being told to travel hundreds of miles to get tested, telling MPs: “The next time a man with Covid symptoms drives from London to Durham, it’ll probably be for the nearest Covid test."
Ms Rayner was standing in for the first time at PMQs for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who was freed from self-isolation shortly before the Commons clash as one of his children got a negative coronavirus test result.
Starmer has said that his child got a test quickly after showing symptoms on Monday only because his wife works in the NHS.
And Ms Rayner said she had a message for the PM from “a man called Keir”: “Keir wasn’t able to go to work today, and his children couldn't go to school because his family had to wait for their coronavirus test results, despite the prime minister promising results within 24 hours.