The UK can have a “1948 moment” in rebuilding the country after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Jeremy Hunt.
The Conservative former health secretary suggested the crisis could provide an opportunity for the country to reform in a similar way to Clement Attlee’s Labour government after the Second World War.
Mr Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, also said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is a threat to his party at Westminster.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme, he said: “I think he’s (Sir Keir) a very serious threat, a much bigger threat than we’ve had for many years, indeed since Tony Blair, I would definitely say that, yes.
“On the other hand, this could be a very exciting period for this country and if you look at what is, I think, generally recognised as the most successful Labour government since the war, the Attlee government, they were running the country in a period after a great crisis, the second World War.
“They showed enormous imagination in the setting-up of the NHS in 1948. I think we could turn this into a 1948 moment for the country as we come out of this crisis by completely reforming the social care system, giving it a proper 10-year plan, sorting out the workforce issues in the NHS, getting our cancer survival rates to the levels of France and Germany.
“I think sometimes there are opportunities in these terrible crises and if we grasp those opportunities, Boris Johnson really can show the country that we are the party of the NHS, which is something I know he very much wants to do.”
Pleased to report my wonderful & indomitable 100 year old Scottish great aunt Betty has now had her vaccine in Aberdeen. Best possible birthday present for her 101st next week 🎂👏🎶 pic.twitter.com/QHB5AjOGPZ— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) January 29, 2021
Most successful countries in east Asia
Mr Hunt also said the UK must become more effective at getting people to isolate when they are required to do so.
Asked about border controls announced by the Government last week, he said: “The big point here is that we have an advantage because we’re an island and it’s much easier for us to control travel in and out of the country than it is for countries with a lot of land borders.
“The lesson of this virus is that the countries that were most successful were the countries in east Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Hong, Singapore, and they imposed travel restrictions very, very quickly.
“That’s not the only thing they did, they took the whole business of quarantining people who might be infectious much more seriously and I would say that the borders are one gap that we are starting to plug.
“But another very, very big one is the fact that Dido Harding said only this week 40 per cent of the people who are asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace don’t actually do so and that works out at about 240,000 people every week, a number of whom are still going to work incidentally.
“I think one of the big things we’ve got to look at is how we are much, much more effective at getting people to isolate that we need to.”