Coronavirus: Labour's Kate Green apologises after urging activists not to 'let a good crisis go to waste'

Sky News

Labour's shadow education secretary has admitted it was "hurtful and offensive" to urge party activists not to "let a good crisis go to waste".

Kate Green told Sky News that she "really regretted" making the comments at a virtual conference event discussing the coronavirus outbreak.

The party had already distanced itself from her comments, but the senior MP said for the first time on Monday that she had been "really clumsy".

She told Kay Burley: "It was absolutely the wrong thing to say - hurtful and offensive to people who have suffered in this pandemic and I shouldn't have said it.

"What I would say, and I think I all know this, is the crisis has really exposed the strain, the pressures in our public services, the dependence we all have on some of the lowest paid workers in health, in care, in transport, in food and logistics.

"It's really shown, I think, our schools, our care system is under huge pressure.

"And when something like a pandemic hits - we hope it won't again - but when we have this kind of crisis we realise that under-investment in our economy and in our public services has been a really false economy.

She continued: "It was a really clumsy and awful way to say that what we need to do is learn from a crisis - learn what we weren't prepared for, what we could have been prepared for and hadn't."

Ms Green added she would be "absolutely mortified" and "really ashamed" if people thought her comments were an effort to get Labour to use the coronavirus crisis to criticise the Conservative government.

She was criticised by Conservative chair Amanda Milling, who said last week: "Labour shouldn't be playing politics with people's lives, they should be acting in the national interest."

And Boris Johnson used the comment to attack Labour at Prime Minister's Questions, saying: "The reality of the opposition position has been exposed - the cat is out of the bag...

"That is the real approach of the Labour Party - seeking to create political opportunity out of a crisis, out of the difficulties and dangers this country is going through, while we are taking the tough decisions to get the virus down, to keep our education system going and to keep our economy moving."

The MP for Stretford and Urmston in Greater Manchester was only promoted into Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's shadow cabinet a few months ago.

She replaced Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was fired after sharing an article that "contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory".