Alistair Jones, principal politics lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, warned new Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer will immediately be looking to pounce on any perceived errors by the Government makes around these two critical areas over the coming weeks and months. Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party have been subjected mounting criticism from all sides since the coronavirus outbreak in the UK earlier this year. The UK – despite its small size in comparison to many other global superpowers – already has the fourth highest number of fatalities from the killer pandemic in the world, with the death toll quickly surging towards 30,000.
The number of infections in Britain is also edging towards 200,000, with the Government finding itself under attack for not reacting to the pandemic quickly enough – despite strict lockdown rules being in place since March 23.
But Mr Johnson and his Brexit negotiating team have also come under attack for its stern position in crunch trade deal talks with the EU.
The UK has until June 30 to request an extension to the transition period beyond December 31, 2020.
However, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the Prime Minister wants a deal this year, and had even threatened to walk away from the negotiating table early if sufficient progress has not been made.
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What is more important for the Labour Party is to hold the Johnson Government to account for the decisions being taken in the transition period
This has sparked fury in Brussels, with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier expressing his anger at the UK’s approach.
Mr Jones told Express.co.uk: “The UK is leaving on 31 December 2020 (at the end of the transition period). It will be another three or four years until the next general election so debates around Leave/Remain are redundant.
“What is more important for the Labour Party is to hold the Johnson Government to account for the decisions being taken in the transition period.
“The fact the govt has stated there will be no extension, despite the pandemic, highlights the ideological drive to leave the EU rather than considering the future of the UK economy.
“Starmer has a very good track record of forensically examining the flaws in the government’s approach and explaining them to the public.”
Mr Jones believes Sir Keir will be a “popular choice” as new Labour leader in his attempts to desperately reunite a party torn apart by vicious in-fighting and a humiliating general election result in December, which handed the Tories a huge 80-seat majority.
He warned Sir Keir could find an opportunity to create a “people’s agenda” as he looks to pounce upon criticisms the Government will come in for when it is forced to find ways of paying back the hundreds of billions of pounds being spent on coronavirus.
The politics expert said: “Starmer will be a popular choice as he re-unites the party. His ability to highlight the errors of the government at PMQs will endear him to many voters.
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“The costs of the pandemic are such that the current government will either have to raise taxes or slash public spending even further – and both are vote losers.
“Starmer has an opportunity to create a ‘people’s agenda’, much in the same way as Johnson did over ‘Get Brexit Done’.”
Britain is entering a sixth week of a nationwide lockdown enforced in a desperate bid to contain and bring the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic under control.
But this has seen the UK’s 67 million people largely confined to their homes, with thousands of businesses struggling to stay afloat and millions of people losing their jobs as a result.
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Mr Jones warned the British public are becoming increasingly “disgruntled” over the Government’s forced apologies, and Sir Keir will use his experience as Director of Public Prosecutions to expose the flaws in its plans.
He said: “The levels of ineptitude demonstrated by senior cabinet members in dealing with the pandemic are only matched by the USA and Belarus.
“The fact that none of the politicians are willing to apologise – it is always “I’m sorry you think that” – is leaving the public more and more disgruntled.
“When investigations are carried out as to the numbers of deaths which could have been prevented comes to light, Starmer will use his legal background to expose how poorly senior UK politicians acted.
“The Conservative Party has created a rod for its’ own back in choosing their current party leader. They should be very worried.”
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