Labour leader Keir Starmer tests positive for COVID

·2 min read

Watch: 'Absolutely gutted': Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tests positive for COVID-19

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has tested positive for coronavirus, missing the opportunity to challenge the government in-person on its budget.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, now the shadow COP26 president, stood in for Sir Keir at Prime Minister's Questions, which took place just before Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the budget.

Sir Keir will have to self-isolate for 10 days so will also miss the beginning of the COP26 climate change summit, however, it has not been confirmed if he was attending.

He tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a lateral flow test earlier on Wednesday.

In a video message, Sir Keir said: "I was absolutely gutted this morning to test positive for COVID just before PMQs and just before the budget response.

"I'm fine, but it's obviously important that we follow the rules."

The Labour leader was pictured with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and Bridget Phillipson, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, on Wednesday morning but they have both tested negative with a lateral flow test.

Ms Reeves responded to Mr Sunak's budget announcement.

Sir Keir praised the pair for standing in for him, describing their performances in the Commons as "just brilliant".

"Both of them stepped up at short notice, very short notice, to absolutely call out the government for their failure on the climate crisis and to hammer the chancellor on his smoke and mirror budget, which does nothing for working people and nothing about the cost of living crisis," he said.

"I'll now be working from home, but if you have symptoms or any cause for concern, please get tested and stop the spread of this virus."

Sir Keir carries out daily lateral flow tests but this is the first time he has tested positive.

However, he has had to self-isolate four times previously since the pandemic began, with the last time being in July after one of his children tested positive although he tested negative.

The rules have changed since then for fully vaccinated people so they no longer have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive but must do so if they test positive themselves.

Watch: COP26: The Queen, 95, will 'regretfully' not be attending climate change summit in Glasgow

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