BBC Breakfast's Charlie Stayt Skewers Kwarteng Over Ineffective Covid Policy

As infections soar, the presenter asked: “So your policy is working in... what respect?”
Charlie Stayt with Kwasi Kwarteng on BBC Breakfast
Charlie Stayt with Kwasi Kwarteng on BBC Breakfast
Twitter @BBCBreakfast

BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt pointed out the obvious to Kwasi Kwarteng when the business secretary said the government’s Covid policy was working.

Speaking on Wednesday as the UK has one of the highest Covid infection rates in the world, the presenter was questioning why Downing Street has not yet acted and brought in more restrictions.

Kwarteng replied: “Our approach is working.”

Stayt probed: “In what sense?

“The situation we have according to the statistics – the infection rate is growing, the death rate is growing and the hospitalisation rate is growing...

“So your policy is working in... what respect?”

Hospital admission rates are six times higher, and the Covid-related death rate is three times higher, in the UK when compared to neighbouring European nations.

Kwarteng replied: “If you look at the beginning of the year where we had a huge rate, toll of daily deaths – the rate now, even though it’s picked up a little bit, is much lower as is the hospitalisation rate.

“This is a virus we are learning to live with.

“Clearly any increase is concerning and we’re monitoring the data as I say on a daily basis.

“But for now we think this policy is working. It can be reviewed at any stage, and we’ve talked to the experts you’ve quoted.

“But I don’t see any cause for changing the course at this minute.”

Kwarteng flatly ruled out the possibility of a future lockdown as well.

The government has faced repeated calls from NHS representatives to switch to plan B of its winter Covid strategy as the infection rate continues to climb. On Tuesday, the UK recorded the highest number of daily Covid cases since March 2021.

The NHS Confederation wants Downing Street to implement more mandatory face masks and less indoor mixing in a bid to prevent a crisis over the coldest months of the year.

However, No 10 has rejected such pleas even though it has been repeatedly accused of acting too late when it comes the pandemic before.

A damning Covid report released in October found that Downing Street’s early handling of the pandemic back in March 2020 was “the biggest ever public health failing” for not locking the UK down soon enough.