In the early summer, a Government report called “Preparing for a challenging winter” warned of the risk of a second wave of the pandemic, of the coronavirus mutating and of the NHS being overwhelmed. At a Prime Minister’s Question Time in July, Boris Johnson was asked by Keir Starmer if he had read the report, to which he replied he was ‘aware’ of it. Six months on, asked the same question by Andrew Marr, the Prime Minister again wouldn’t confirm if he had.
Restrictions are, sadly, necessary to protect people’s health and the health of our NHS. I have profound respect for our incredible health workers who are powering through fatigue and intense stress to look after us all. We each owe it to them to follow the new guidance as best we can.
Thanks to our brilliant scientists however, we now have a light at the end of the tunnel.
That’s why the Labour Party and trade unions are doing everything we can to support this national effort: to secure the economy, protect the NHS and then rebuild our country.
Earlier today I wrote to local Labour Party members about how to support the vaccine rollout, from signing up to NHS volunteer campaigns, speaking to neighbours, friends, family and community leaders to promote vaccination, making sure colleagues at work can get paid time off to get vaccinated, and speaking out against disinformation online.
This week the Prime Minister announced that schools will close to all but vulnerable and key workers’ children. It is devastating that it has once again come to this, and made even worse by the chaotic handling of the decision and lack of a plan from the Department of Education.
Last weekend, I wrote to the Education Secretary about the implications of the new Covid-19 variant on schools, and stressed how important a robust catch-up programme and remote learning would be as this runaway second wave forces children back home.
Gavin Williamson must stretch every sinew to get devices to pupils who need them; internet access to pupils without; remove data charges for educational websites; provide technical support for schools; and guaranteed time with teachers.
Since the beginning of December, Birmingham has moved through several tiers of restrictions, and the situation for the country has gone from bad to worse. Yet it has been 38 days and counting since the Chancellor last appeared in Parliament.
Now that a national lockdown has been announced, Rishi Sunak must come out of hiding to explain how he will support people and businesses through this exceptionally challenging time.
I wrote to him earlier this week about the planned cuts to Universal Credit and freezing of LHA, which risk pushing families in Edgbaston to destitution.