Iain Dale challenges Shadow Chancellor over Labour's calls for lockdown

14 October 2020, 19:39

By Fiona Jones

Iain Dale challenged Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds over the Labour Party's calls for a "circuit breaker" national lockdown.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for a two week "circuit-breaker" national lockdown after the PM unveiled a three tier lockdown system that gives region specific restrictions.

Ms Dodds said that Labour has wanted to support the Government throughout the crisis but have taken exception after it was revealed the government's scientific advisers called for a short lockdown in England to halt the spread of Covid-19 last month.

She said, "The major concern, especially after those [SAGE] minutes came out, was around whether the Government still is following that scientific advice.

"It appears it is not over this issue of whether a circuit breaker is needed. We're very concerned that unless Government takes action in the short-term, we could see a very very difficult autumn and winter, potentially with extra restrictions being forced on us anyway."

Iain asked of Sir Keir's move: "Was there any politics at play here?"

The Shadow Chancellor said "there genuinely wasn't" and insisted that even before the SAGE minutes came out "many of us" were looking at the increasing amounts of areas put under lockdown - all of which have not come out of lockdown except Luton - "with a huge amount of concern."

"It appeared that we were sleepwalking potentially into a situation where Government would be forced to act...if you take it earlier, it will be more effective," Ms Dodds said.

Iain countered that some people thought this was a political move because Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth branded a national lockdown a "disaster for society" and two hours later Sir Keir Starmer made the announcement "two hours later" the policy was now to have that lockdown.

Ms Dodds said: "That's not completely right. The idea of a circuit breaker as set out by SAGE ensures, for example, the impact on schooling is minimised...we're not talking about the sort of situation we had at the start of the year.

"Jon's right, that would be extremely damaging."

The Shadow Chancellor said that even a two week circuit breaker would cause damage to society "no question", which is why Labour is urging the Government to provide sufficient financial support alongside it.

She said the circuit breaker would be "short and sharp" and provide an opportunity to get the Test and Trace system sorted "to give us a fighting chance."

Watch the full interview above.