UK coronavirus live: Starmer calls on government to set out lockdown exit strategy

UK coronavirus live: Starmer calls on government to set out lockdown exit strategy

Rebecca Smithers

Tesco has started construction work on a dedicated pop-up store for staff working at the NHS Nightingale ExCel in London, which it hopes to open on Sunday.

The 24-hour shop is being adapted from an existing retail unit next to ExCel with a marquee at the front to increase the amount of space. It will be staffed by 40 colleagues from nearby Tesco stores. Any surplus food from the store will be redistributed to frontline NHS staff where possible and then to those who need it across the borough.

My colleague Harry Davies has been looking at the background of Lord Bethell, the hereditary Tory peer who was recently made an unpaid health minister and who is now in charge of ramping up the coronavirus testing programme.

During his interview round this morning Sir Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader, was also asked about his decision to order a review into the leak of an internal Labour report compiled when Jeremy Corbyn was leader looking at how the party handled complaints. The internal report highlighted factionalism in the party, and the extent to which some party staff opposed what Corbyn was doing.

Here are two of the main points.

  • Starmer said he was “shocked” by the contents of the report and by “the circumstance in which it all came about”.
  • He insisted that Labour had to reject factionalism. He told the Today programme:

We absolutely have to turn our back on factionalism and that was the whole basis of my leadership campaign.

  • He refused to commit to expelling people from the party for undermining Corbyn. Asked on Sky News if he would commit to getting rid of people who were actively working against his predecessor, Starmer replied:

I’m not going to pre-empt the outcome of this investigation. I’ve set it up. I want it to be speedy. And I’ll obviously look at the result when we get it.

The internal report runs to 860 pages. Sienna Rodgers at LabourList has a very thorough summary of it here.

Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, has been photographed arriving for work at No 10 on his own today. He is normally photographed arriving with his colleague Cleo Watson, but yesterday when they were pictured arriving together Cummings was accused of ignoring government social distancing rules.

Dominic Cummings arriving for work at No 10 this morning.

Dominic Cummings arriving for work at No 10 this morning. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Steve Rotherham, the metro mayor of Liverpool city region, has announced a £400,000 fund to provide immediate financial support for the city’s creative industry. The initiative, which is being funded by the combined authority, is part of a series of targeted projects to help small and medium businesses survive during the coronavirus lockdown. It includes a music fund which will provide grants or loans of up to £10,000 to support small businesses in the sector, and a film and TV development fund which will provide investments of up to £25,000 per project.

Rotheram said:

It is absolutely vital that we do everything we can to protect and preserve our music, film and TV industries. They are at the beating heart of our city region’s very identity and are responsible for 5,000 jobs, contributing £228m to our economy every year in normal times.

The Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, has written to the European commission asking it to investigate claims that care home owners in Wales and Scotland are suffering a shortage of PPE because suppliers are prioritising the NHS in England.

The Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price, has written to the president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to raise the matter and ask her to look into it. Price said:

I have lodged a formal complaint to the European commission relating to instructions reportedly issued by Public Health England to the main domestic suppliers of PPE in the UK not to sell certain high-demand items to care homes outside of England.

Price claimed this potentially breached EU regulations and added:

I have been made aware of countless cases of care home workers being left to work with wholly inadequate PPE, endangering themselves and those they care for.

This really is a matter of life and death and the Welsh and UK governments must get to grips with the problems surrounding the supply and distribution of PPE as a matter of urgency whilst doing so in a manner which doesn’t discriminate any nation in any way.

Downing Street denies that the NHS in England is being prioritised over the other nations.


The husband of a former MP has died from Covid-19 in hospital after twice being told that he did not have the virus.

Betty Williams said her husband, Evan Williams, 79, died in intensive care on Good Friday – a day after a third test showed he had contracted the disease.

He had initially been taken to a general ward a fortnight ago where he was diagnosed with severe pneumonia, before falling seriously ill and being placed on a ventilator.

The former Aberconwy MP told NorthWalesLive :

What worries me most about this is if the first two tests were negative, and the last test – the day before he died – was positive, he has either picked up the virus at Ysbyty Gwynedd or he had it when he went into hospital.

If he took it in with him I’m really worried that he passed it on to other staff and patients.


A jogger runs past the deserted Spanish City, Whitley Bay, this morning.

A jogger runs past the deserted Spanish City, Whitley Bay, this morning. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

The Welsh government has apologised for sending letters warning the most vulnerable people to stay at home to the wrong addresses.

It said that some shielding letters had been sent to previous addresses because of a processing error. A spokesperson said:

Due to a processing error within the NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), some shielding letters were posted to a previous address, where the intended recipient had recently moved. All letters have since been reissued to the correct addresses.

We provided all local authorities with the correct details from the start of this process, and they have been directly contacting each person involved over the past two weeks.

The spokesperson said supermarkets had also received the correct addresses and have been using these to prioritise delivery slots for people who are shielding.

“We fully understand the concern this would have caused people and sincerely apologise for the mistake,” the spokesperson added.

The government has not so far said how many letters were sent to the wrong addresses. The BBC has reported that it was 13,000.

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