UK politics news live: Boris Johnson facing Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs after ‘capitalism’ and ‘greed’ claim over COVID vaccines | Politics News

What to expect at PMQs?

Analysis by Tom Rayner, political correspondent

Boris Johnson’s normal response to a difficult
question in Prime Minister’s Questions is to change the subject – and we can
expect some of that today.

He is almost certain to be asked about his remarks
to the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers last night, in which he
suggested “capitalism” and “greed” were the explanation for the UK’s so-far
successful vaccination roll-out.

Critics say his comments have clumsily thrown fuel
on the fire when it comes to the on-going dispute with the EU over vaccine
exports, given the bloc’s accusation that the UK is currently receiving more
than its fair share.

So how could he change the subject on that one?

It is likely the PM will ignore the
specifics – particularly the use of the word “greed” – and instead try to use
it as an opportunity to claim his party values the private sector, and Labour
does not.

Indeed he made such an argument at PMQs back in
November.

When asked by Keir Starmer about the government’s
approach to private sector contracts, the PM said: “It is the
private sector that, no matter how much the Labour party may hate it, provides
the vaccines and the scientific breakthroughs.”

Given other MPs might ask about the “greed” comments, it could be that the Labour leader today will choose a different
tack.

There are several possible angles Keir Starmer
could choose to pursue: Labour’s demand for an independent COVID inquiry is
one, but given the PM is likely to be asked about that at the
Liaison Committee later this afternoon, he may give that a pass.

The government’s new asylum plan are another
possibility. Starmer may seek to compare the government’s hardline when it
comes to limiting asylum rights for people who enter the UK illegally, with
what Labour argues is its soft stance when it comes to COVID quarantine
measures.