Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has accused Boris Johnson of “trashing” the UK’s global reputation at a time when it should be leading global efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday announced a series of new measures, including bringing in a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, in a bid to stem the second wave of infections across England.
But Ms Nandy told Labour’s “virtual” conference during a question and answer session after her speech that Mr Johnson’s administration should be emulating Gordon Brown’s approach during the global financial crisis in 2008.
The former Downing Street incumbent was successful in encouraging his fellow international leaders to bail out the banks following the crash, rather than let them go bust.
Ms Nandy said that rather than step up to the challenge, the Conservative Party leader had instead damaged the country’s standing with his UK Internal Market Bill that looks to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union in a move that could break international law if utilised.
The Bill has been criticised by every living former prime minister, Brussels and Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for US president.
Ms Nandy said: “The last Labour government, led by Gordon Brown, during the financial crisis brought the world together and helped people to understand that it was in every country’s interest perhaps to give a little in order to gain a lot.
“That is what is missing right now and, with the US having stepped outside of that leadership role, there is a real need for countries like Britain and Germany to come together, to step forward together.
“But at precisely that moment, the British Government has chosen to trash our relationships around the world.
“And that is why Labour is determined that we will be participants and not just spectators in the battle that is to come and help to bring the world together.”
Mr Brown, who led the country between 2007-10, also took part in the afternoon Labour Connected session.
He said the rise of nationalism was to blame for a lack of international co-ordination in attempting to stifle Covid-19, and called for allies to fight against the right-wing ideology.
The former chancellor also reiterated his prediction that there was likely to be a “tsunami” of job losses if the Treasury did not continue to offer some form of subsidised wages for those who cannot go back full-time.
His warning comes as ministers prepare to wind down the furlough scheme next month which, at the height of the first coronavirus wave of infections in the spring, saw the Government pay up to 80% of staff wages for companies that could not operate during the lockdown.