When Labour supported the second national lockdown in November, we did so because we believed that four weeks would be enough time for the government to get a grip on the virus. We urged the government to expand testing and fixing contact tracing as a matter of urgency. Our position reflected our desire to slow the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
Now the second national lockdown is over. But we still don’t have a functioning ‘Test and Trace’ system. The government’s public health messaging is – as it always has been – confused and unclear. And what’s more is that businesses up and down the country are not being given access to more effective economic support as part of the government’s localised system of Coronavirus restrictions, which is going to be extremely damaging in the areas in which the restrictions imposed are the most severe.
The Labour Party recognise that Coronavirus restrictions are necessary, but the restrictions which are in place must be both effective and fair.
The previous tiered system didn’t work, and we ended up in a second national lockdown. Nobody, least of all me, wants to see a repeat of that. Keir Starmer said that the tiered system of Coronavirus restrictions is “short-term incompetence that is causing long-term damage to the British economy” and I agree with him.
What is crucial is that the economic support made available to local areas is reflective of the restrictions that they are living under. We have been arguing that support for businesses in Tier 3 areas needs to be expanded so that it is fair and equal. It should not matter how long an area has been subjected to the most severe restrictions – the government cannot expect businesses in Tier 3 areas to make do with less over time.
Because we were unable to get the government to agree to the financial support that local areas need, the Labour Party did not support the Tories in the vote on the reintroduction of localised Coronavirus restrictions.
This year has been hard on all of us, but please do continue to abide by the latest rules and guidance. As things are, this is the only way we can slow the spread of the virus, protect our NHS and save lives.
I sincerely hope that you and your family are keeping safe and well. Thank you again for contacting me about this important subject. If you have any further points you would like to raise about this issue or any other, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.,
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury