PMQs LIVE: Look who’s back! Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer set for historic first showdown

The Prime Minister will return to the dispatch box for Westminster’s set-piece event and is likely to come under pressure over his handling of the coronavirus crisis a day after the UK’s official death toll became the highest in Europe. The Labour leader is expected to question Mr Johnson on the Tory Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and also pressure him to set out a detailed plan on easing the UK-wide lockdown.

It will be the first time Mr Johnson has taken questions in Parliament since returning to Downing Street after his own battle with the deadly disease which resulted in an admission to intensive care at London’s St Thomas’s hospital.

Though more than 32,000 have died in the UK during the pandemic, the rate has been slowing and the Prime Minister is expected to unveil his “roadmap” of future steps later this week.

Mr Keir, who took over as Labour leader last month, has called for Mr Johnson to form a “national consensus” on easing restrictions while protecting public health.

Mr Johnson has not taken questions in the Commons since March 25 before Parliament broke early for Easter as MPs struggled to keep their distance in the Palace of Westminster.

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He returned to Downing Street last week after recovering from COVID-19, but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab deputised for him in PMQs as Mr Johnson welcomed the birth of his new son, Wilfred.

Mr Raab on Tuesday warned the “next stage won’t be easy” but he said ministers want to ensure it is “more comfortable, is more sustainable and prevents lasting damage to jobs and livelihoods”.

The prospect of the UK edging towards life after lockdown came as figures showed a total of 32,375 coronavirus-related deaths across the UK.

In Italy, the European country which first suffered an outbreak on a horrific scale, that figure stood at 29,315 as of 5pm on Tuesday.

But Downing Street has warned against comparing different nations’ death tolls, with the true extent of the loss not likely to be fully realised for months to come.


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