Keir Starmer: 'Regrettable' that Government waited to bring in second lockdown

1 November 2020, 11:28 | Updated: 1 November 2020, 12:28

By Megan White

Sir Keir Starmer has said it is "regrettable" that the Government has "left it this late" to bring in a second national lockdown, three weeks after Labour proposed a circuit break.

The Labour leader told LBC that the Government "missed the opportunity" of using school half term last week as part of a lockdown, which could have slowed the rise in cases.

On Saturday, Boris Johnson announced a second national lockdown for a month starting next week, telling people to stay at home and forcing pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops to close.

Read more: Covid outbreak 'unlikely to be completely controlled' by December 2

But Labour called for a two to three-week circuit break on October 13 - three weeks ago - which Sir Keir said the Government "rejected and ridiculed."

Sir Keir told LBC: “It’s regrettable that the Government has left it this late to bring in a lockdown.

“We called for a circuit break three weeks ago, the Government rejected it, ridiculed it, only now to do the same thing.

“That means, I’m afraid, that the lockdown will be for longer, because the infection rate has gone up in the last three weeks and we’ve missed the opportunity of half term when schools would actually have been shut.

“What we now need to see from the Government is the infection rate coming down to below one, because otherwise infections will keep going up.

“We also need to see the Government using this period to fix Test, Trace and Isolate, because if you can’t test quickly, you can’t trace, if you can’t trace you can’t isolate, and you will lose control of the virus which is what has happened.

“So fix Test, Trace and Isolate – we promised a world beating system for months on end.

“We don’t need world beating, we need effective, and we haven’t got it.”

From 00.01 on Thursday until 2 December, all pubs and restaurants must close but takeaway and deliveries can continue. All non-essential retail will shut but supermarkets can stay open.

Schools, colleges and universities as well as courts and parliament will remain open.

People are advised not to travel unless for essential reasons or for work. Brits abroad will be allowed to return to the UK.

The PM announced the new restrictions in a Downing Street briefing on Saturday evening alongside Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser.

They are the toughest measures seen since the spring lockdown and will be put to a Commons vote next week.