'Just won't cut it': Labour's Angela Rayner attacks Boris Johnson's new 'stay alert' coronavirus strategy

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Angela Rayner has criticised the government's new coronavirus message. (PA)

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has attacked Boris Johnson’s new “stay alert” coronavirus strategy, saying it “just won’t cut it”.

Rayner went on the attack after the prime minister unveiled the government’s new “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” slogan.

It replaces the “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” mantra used since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March.

Johnson’s new slogan coincided with Sunday’s impending announcement outlining plans to gradually ease the lockdown.

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Rayner was the highest-ranking Labour MP to criticise the message on Sunday, writing in a series of tweets that it “just won’t cut it” and that “we don’t need slogans we need a plan”.

Rayner has previously accused Johnson’s government of “costing lives” with its initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In March, before the lockdown was enforced, Rayner was one of the first dissenting voices from Labour’s ranks about the government’s coronavirus strategy, calling for Johnson “to pull his finger out”.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said on Sunday that the “stay alert” slogan risks ambiguity.

He told : “We need absolute clarity from Boris Johnson. There’s no room for nuance in this.

“This virus exploits ambivalence, it thrives on ambiguity and I think the problem with the slogan... is people will be looking slightly puzzled, questioning: ‘What does it mean to stay alert? What are the government saying with that?’

“So I hope that Boris Johnson will offer us that crystal-clear clarity tonight that is desperately needed.”

Health experts also attacked the slogan on Sunday, raising concerns that it might be misinterpreted by the public.

Downing Street later sought to clarify the meaning of the new “stay alert” and “control the virus” messages being introduced by Johnson.

A Number 10 spokesman said the public can stay alert by “staying at home as much as possible”, “limiting contact with other people” and keeping two metres apart where possible.

“We can control the virus by keeping the rate of infection (R) and the number of infections down,” the spokesman said.

“This is how we can continue to save lives and livelihoods as we start to recover from coronavirus.

“Everyone has a role to play in keeping the rate of infection (R) down by staying alert and following the rules.”

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