Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took part in his last Prime Minister’s Questions as Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday at midday. Mr Corbyn quizzed the Prime Minister over coronavirus, as the deadly virus continues to sweep across the country. Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions was a bumper hour-long session, giving MPs the chance to question Mr Johnson extensively before Parliament breaks up for recess.
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister put the whole country on effective lockdown to try to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Britons were told they were only allowed to leave their homes under a strict set of circumstances.
– Shopping for basic necessities like food and medicine, but should be done “as infrequently as possible”.
– One form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk or cycle. This can be done alone or with members of your household.
– Any medical need or to give care or help to a vulnerable person.
– Travelling to and from work, but only if this is “absolutely necessary” and cannot be done from home.
Mr Johnson was also quizzed over confusion about whether Britons can still go to work under the restrictions placed by the government.
The Government has said if Brits cannot work from home they can still travel to work – but must abide by “social distancing” measures – difficult in some sectors.
Also, concerns have been raised for those who are self-employed in the UK, and how they will be able to financially support themselves if they are not able to work.
Mr Johnson has already faced some criticism for UK coronavirus restrictions being enforced too late – as the country followed European countries like Italy, Spain, France and Germany with an effective lockdown on Monday evening.
PMQ’s LIVE UPDATES TO FOLLOW BELOW:
12.53pm update: Prime Minister quizzed over role of black cab drivers to help crisis
Boris Johnson was quizzed over the role black cab drivers could play in helping to handle the coronavirus crisis.
Conservative MP, Sir Charles Walker, asked: “There is an army of black cab drivers in and around London itching to get involved like the Spitfires in 1940.
“Can we find a way, if we need to get doctors and nurses safely across London to use these black cab drivers, not on the metre, but perhaps on a contracted basis.”
Mr Johnson replied: “Indeed that has been raised in our considerations. The black cab drivers are an unsung service and I believe they can rise to this challenge.”
12.48pm update: SNP’s Blackford calls for everyone to stay home to protect NHS
Ian Blackford called for all those in the UK to respect the measures in place across the country to try to help the NHS and flatten the coronavirus curve.
Mr Blackford also said no one should be evicted during this crisis.
The Prime Minister insisted protections would be kept under review.
12.46pm update: Mr Johnson quizzed over London transport
The Prime Minister was quizzed over packed trains despite measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Mr Johnson said: “The Mayor of London, I can assure him, my own view is we should run a better tube system at the moment,
“We will do whatever we can. What we will do is give the Mayor every support we can to give him during his present logistical difficulties.”
12.42pm update: Corbyn asks how Boris will be held to account during recess
Jeremy Corbyn asks how Mr Johnson will still be held to account during the recess period amid the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “It is quite right Parliament is virtually closed and the government deliver daily sessions.
“But, there has to be scrutiny. That is what Parliament is for.”
Mr Johnson agreed, saying: “The way we have tried to handle this crisis is to be as open as we can.
“I will work with you, Mr Speaker, so the House is kept informed through the recess.”
12.38pm update: Mr Corbyn asks about the universal credit system
The Labour Party leader said: “I am asking questions about the self-employed and those who are on zero-hour contracts.
“He should understand there are many constituents who lead a hand-to-mouth existence.
“Time and time again government ministers have told us they can get help via universal credit.
“Will the Prime Minister put extra resources and funding…so money gets to who it needs to quickly.”
Mr Johnson replied: “He is perfectly right. We have increased funding of universal credit and another seven billion into the welfare system.
“We will be bringing forward a package for the self-employed. What we are not doing is closing down the whole UK economy.”
12.35pm update: Corbyn quizzes PM on construction work in Britain
Back on his feet, Mr Corbyn quizzed the Prime Minister over the construction industry with some workers still heading to work.
Mr Johnson replied: “Everybody must work at home unless they have no alternative.
“If a business is continuing, they should do in accordance with the guidance of Public Health England.
“What we are saying is unless you need to leave the house for exercise, medical reasons, buy essential supplies – they should stay at home and protect others.”
12.27pm update: Jeremy Hunt quizzes Boris Johnson
The former Health Secretary quizzed the Prime Minister over COVID-19 testing.
Mr Hunt said: “Can we have some idea when we will be able to get back to routine testing? Should we not introduce weekly tests for NHS staff?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I can tell the House on anti-body testing we are making huge progress.
“How soon can we get NHS staff tested to see if they have the disease? As soon as we possibly can.”
12.23pm update: PM quizzed on supermarket chaos
Mr Johnson was asked to give an update on supermarket chaos amid the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “I think the profiteering is something we should be looking at from a legislative view.
“The supermarkets do have adequate supplies…it is very important everybody in their shopping acts considerately.”
12.20pm update: The PM quizzed over coronavirus measures
The Prime Minister asked about the lifting of measures when as soon as physically possible.
Mr Johnson said: “We keep them under constant review.
“The more the country works together to conform to stipulations, the faster we will come out of it.”
12.17pm update: Ian Blackford quizzes Boris over the self-employed amid coronavirus
The SNP’s Westminster leader insisted self-employed people were still not being supported by the government.
Mr Johnson replied: “We are working as fast as we can to get the appropriate package of support for people in this country.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader said, “people deserve strong leadership, financial support and straight answers”.
He said: “Telling them to wait another day is not good enough.”
Mr Johnson replied: “I share his desire to get parity of support. We have extended mortgage holidays, all sorts of interest-free loans. We are bringing forward a package…the better we tackle the epidemic now, the faster we will come through it.
“That means testing, staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”
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12.14pm update: Boris quizzed over self-employed in Britain
Mr Johnson insisted the UK did need to protect the self-employed in Britain.
He suggested more information would become clear in the coming days.
12.11pm update: Corbyn quizzes Boris over private renters
Mr Corbyn demanded renters in the UK were protected for six months in response to coronavirus.
Boris Johnson replied by insisting the Government was putting its “arm around Brits” and would do “whatever it takes” to get Britain through the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “The most important thing we can all do is stay home to protect our NHS and save lives.”