Watch: Angela Rayner asks Boris Johnson if grouse shooting is his 'top priority'
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner attacks Boris Johnson at PMQs over exemption of grouse shooting in “rule of six”
“We are staring down the barrel of a second wave... is this really your top priority?”
Johnson hits back at Rayner over “carping” and raising “tangential” issues
Angela Rayner has mocked Boris Johnson over his government’s “rule of six” exemption for grouse shooting and hunting.
Labour deputy leader Rayner, stepping in for Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, attacked Johnson over his record during the coronavirus outbreak before asking: “Is this really your top priority?”
On Monday, HuffPost UK reported Downing Street exempted grouse shooting and other “hunting” with guns from the “rule of six” law, which bans most social gatherings of more than six people in England.
Rayner also accused Johnson of “incompetence” as she referred to the government’s recent woes with a rising COVID-19 infection rate and serious problems with its testing system.
“We have the highest death toll in Europe and we are on course for one of the worst recessions in the developed world,” Rayner told MPs.
“This winter, we are staring down the barrel of a second wave with no plan for the looming crisis. People can’t say goodbye to their loved ones, grandparents can’t see their grandchildren and frontline staff can’t get the tests they need.
“And what was the top priority for the COVID war cabinet this weekend? Restoring grouse shooting.”
A meeting on hunting and shooting “exemptions” was reportedly set to be chaired by senior cabinet member Michael Gove on Saturday before it was cancelled.
Referring to Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross, who funded Johnson’s £15,000 winter break in the Caribbean after the general election, Rayner went on: “I suppose it’s good news for people like the PM’s friend, who paid for a luxury Christmas getaway to a Caribbean island and funded his leadership campaign – and just so happens to own two grouse moor estates.
“So, PM, is this really your top priority?”
Johnson hit back at Rayner’s “carping from the sidelines” and criticised her for raising a “tangential” issue.
“We are getting on with delivering for the British public,” Johnson said, while insisting the UK is “testing more than any other European country”.
Watch: How to remove a face covering correctly
He added: “It’s with the common sense of the British people that we will succeed, build back better and stronger than ever before.”
The government has faced major issues with the coronavirus testing system.
Problems have included huge queues for tests, people reporting they have been unable to get tests, and others being offered tests hundreds of miles from their homes.
And health secretary Matt Hancock admitted in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the issues will take “weeks” to solve as he introduced a priority system for tests.
It comes amid reports Johnson’s administration has given itself two weeks for the “rule of six” to reduce infections before it reimposes tougher lockdown measures.