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PMQs: Boris Johnson told to ‘stop bargaining with people’s lives’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson has been told to “stop bargaining with people’s lives” and agree an extension to furlough and a second national lockdown.

Sir Keir Starmer urged the prime minister to end his “corrosive” approach which results in “local battles” for cash.

He told the Commons: “This is a prime minister who can pay £7,000 a day for consultants on track and trace, which isn’t working, can find £43 million for a garden bridge that was never built but he can’t find £5 million for the people of Greater Manchester.

“I really think the prime minister has crossed a Rubicon here, not just with the miserly way that he’s treated Greater Manchester, but the grubby take it or leave it way these local deals are being done.

Labour leader Keir Starmer

“It’s corrosive to public trust to pit region against region, mayor against mayor, council against council, asking them to trade away their businesses and jobs.”

Mr Johnson said he was “proud” of the government’s support to the entire country, adding: “I think it’s the height of absurdity that he stands up and attacks the economic consequences of the measures we’re obliged to take across some parts of the country when he wants to turn the lights out with a full national lockdown.”

The prime minister said he would “do whatever it takes” to get the country through the crisis and rejected the circuit-break idea, adding: “It’d involve closing schools, it’d involve shuttering businesses with all the psychological, emotional damage that lockdown of that kind brings.”

So, can I ask the PM, if he’s finding life such a struggle, how on earth does he expect many workers to get by on just £5.84 an hour when the Tory cuts to furlough sink in?”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the treatment of Greater Manchester this week was something “the people of Scotland were all too familiar with”, before piling on pressure over the furlough scheme.

Ian Blackford

He said: “Next week, just as the pandemic is worsening, the Tory government will scrap the furlough scheme in a move that will cause a wave of mass redundancies across the UK.

“Meanwhile, behind closed doors the prime minister’s complaining that he can’t get by on his £150,000 salary.

“So, can I ask the PM, if he’s finding life such a struggle, how on earth does he expect many workers to get by on just £5.84 an hour when the Tory cuts to furlough sink in?”

Mr Johnson responded: “Actually, I’m proud of what we’ve done to support people on low incomes throughout this period and indeed before. It was this Government that raised the living wage by record amounts.

“We’ve just increased Universal Credit by about £1,000 a year and he makes the point about furlough and, as he knows, combine UC with the jobs support scheme that we’ve just announced and workers will be getting 80% of their salary.

“We will get this country through this crisis and we will continue to support people of low incomes throughout the period.”

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