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British PM to face Parliament amid high coronavirus toll

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face the opposition in Parliament on Wednesday as the UK now has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world. 

With over 30,000 dead, the UK has surpassed Italy’s death toll, making it the most affected European country and, on a global level, second only to the United States in terms of the number of deaths linked to the new coronavirus (Covid-19). 

Johnson will return to the House of Commons for the first time on Wednesday since being hospitalised for and recovering from coronavirus himself. The Prime Minister, who has not faced members of Parliament since 25 March, will face the new Labour Party leader Keir Starmer for the first time.

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This confrontation was scheduled to occur last Wednesday but the birth of Johnson’s son caused him to miss the traditional government questioning session.

Starmer has repeatedly criticised the government’s “slow” response to the pandemic. He called for a “national consensus” and urged Johnson to present a clear plan for ending the lockdown, which was decreed on 23 March and is due to be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Johnson is also under pressure due to the economic and social consequences of the lockdown, with more than 6 million people on partial unemployment and an increasing number of job losses.

The government has promised announcements this week on a deconfinement strategy but remains cautious.

The UK has passed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Johnson announced last week, while urging citizens to continue to respect the rules of social distancing to avoid a second wave of infections.

Meanwhile, the committee of scientists advising the government is in turmoil. After a controversy over the attendance at meetings of Boris Johnson’s controversial adviser Dominic Cummings, the epidemiologist Neil Ferguson was forced to resign after violating the lockdown he recommended, according to the Telegraph, after allowing a woman who was presented as his mistress to visit him at his home.

The Brussels Times

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