The allegations of rule-breaking surrounding the prime minister and Downing Street have left Boris Johnson “unable to lead”, Labour’s leader is due to say.
Sir Keir Starmer, in a speech at the Fabian Society conference, is preparing to accuse the Conservatives of running down the health service and the prime minister of being “too preoccupied defending his rule breaking” to turn it around.
It follows a week in which Johnson has faced calls from Tory MPs to resign after he admitted to attending a “bring your own booze” event in the No 10 garden during the first coronavirus lockdown in May 2020.
That gathering – which the prime minister told the Commons he understood to be a “work event” – and a host of other claims of lockdown rule-breaking in government are currently being investigated by senior civil servant Sue Gray.
On Saturday, Sir Keir is due to set out his “personal crusade” for NHS reform, accusing subsequent Tory-led administrations of allowing the health service to fall into a “critical condition”.
Mr Johnson is "too preoccupied defending his rule breaking" to turn around the battered health service, Sir Keir says
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sir Keir is set to say: “Rather than concentrating on getting through the pandemic and bringing down waiting lists, this self-indulgent Tory party is instead having a fight about a leader who they should have known from the start is not fit for office.
“We are witnessing the broken spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and deception, unable to lead.
“When we left office 12 years ago, the Conservatives inherited a strong NHS.
“Waiting times were the shortest on record. Today, NHS waiting lists are the highest since records began.
“And it is not good enough to blame all this on Covid – this mess has been much longer in the making.
“This government has to bear the responsibility. Why have we got to this point, where the NHS itself is in a critical condition?”
The opposition leader will use the conference speech to describe his vision of a “contract for better health” in order to provide people with the “security, prosperity and respect they deserve” under a Labour government.
Those changes will include ensuring “a health system that is a bit less about the system and a lot more about the patient”, with health care moving towards prevention to reflect Britain’s “older society”, according to party officials.
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Sir Keir will make commitments on mental health, promising that the next Labour administration will treat mental health as seriously as physical health and guarantee mental health support in under a month.
He is expected to add: “It is obvious that the NHS needs more money. But that is not all it needs.
“When we were in government, we started to reform the NHS – so that it was pointed more towards the patient, so that it answered the needs of the time.
“That reform process has stalled because this Government doesn’t care if the NHS falls behind.
“Boris Johnson is too preoccupied defending his rule breaking."