Sir Keir said: “On Monday, when asked why care home deaths had been so high the Prime Minister said, and I quote, ‘too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have’.
“That has caused huge offence to frontline care workers. It has now been 48 hours. Will the Prime Minister apologise to care workers?”
Mr Johnson provided a carefully worded response to Sir Keir, but fells short of saying sorry for his remarks.
“The last thing I wanted to do is to blame care workers for what has happened or for any of them to think that I was blaming them because they’ve worked hard, incredibly hard, throughout this crisis, looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our country and doing an outstanding job,” Mr Johnson replied.
“And as he knows, tragically, 257 of them have lost their lives.
“And when it comes to taking blame, I take full responsibility for what has happened.”
Mr Johnson was pushed by Sir Keir to reverse his comments about those working in a second which has undergone a tough time during the pandemic.
Sir Keir Starmer added: “By refusing to apologise the Prime Minister rubs salt into the wounds of the very people that he stood at his front door and clapped.
“The Prime Minister and the Health Secretary must be the only people left in the country who think they put a protective ring around care homes. Those on the front line know that wasn’t the case.”
The Prime Minister said he hoped it would be on a “cross-party” basis to which Sir Keir agreed, although noted: “His Government has been in power for 10 years with no plan no White Paper. Of course we’ll join in plans for reforming social care but 10 years wasted.”
Sir Keir Starmer said more than 19,000 care home residents have died from Covid-19, adding: “Overall around one in 20 care home residents are estimated to have died from the virus. It’s chilling.
“These are extraordinary numbers but the Prime Minister has consistently ducked responsibility for this. Will he accept it isn’t care workers who are to blame, it’s his Government?”
Boris Johnson accused the Labour leader of reading out pre-prepared questions, adding: “I’ve made it clear this Government takes responsibility for everything that we’ve done throughout this crisis.”
‘A joke’: Watch care home manager Debbie Adams’ reaction to Boris Johnson’s comments
He went on: “The decision to discharge 25,000 people to care homes without tests was clearly a mistake. Will the Prime Minister simply accept his Government was just too slow to act on care homes?”
Mr Johnson said the understanding of the disease “changed dramatically” over recent months and defended the Government’s action plan.
Labour’s Anna McMorrin raised the issue of modern slavery in fast fashion clothing factories.
Ms McMorrin said: “I am shocked and angered at workers in UK clothing factories like Boohoo being paid a mere £3.50 an hour and being forced to work in totally unacceptable conditions.
“In the 21st century there must be no room for exploitation and modern slavery, we must call time on fast fashion for the sake of people and our planet.
“So my question is simple – what will the Prime Minister do about it?”
Mr Johnson replied: “First of all it is this Conservative Government that set up laws against modern slavery, it’s this Conservative Government that massively increased the living wage, not only instituted the living wage, but massively increased it.
“And we would hope that it would be the Labour mayor of Leicester who would stand up for the interest of the workforce in his community and that’s what we will do.”