Iain Dale questions Deputy Labour Leader over Starmer's calls for national lockdown

13 October 2020, 20:22

Iain Dale questions Deputy Labour Leader over calls for lockdown

By Fiona Jones

Iain Dale questioned Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner over Sir Keir Starmer's calls for a "circuit break" national lockdown.

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a two to three-week "circuit break" national lockdown after the Prime Minister rejected the request from his top scientists.

The Labour leader said the figures are "stark and heading in the wrong direction," adding that the Government has "lost control of the virus" and is "no longer following scientific advice."

Sir Keir said a circuit breaker would not mean closing schools, but would mean only essential travel, people working from home where possible, and closing pubs, bars and restaurants.He said there is "no longer time to give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. The Government’s plan simply isn’t working. Another course is needed."

Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner told LBC that the reason Sir Keir is calling for a circuit breaker is because Government has not followed Chris Whitty's warnings that the Tier Three lockdown measures will not go far enough to stop Covid spread and reduce the R number.

She said in the north west "we've seen the rates of infection go up, hospital admissions going up, 143 deaths today. We've got to take that action, we cannot sit on this and that's why we've called for that as that's what the scientists say we should do."

"This is Labour playing politics"

Ms Rayner backed the Labour leader's calls for the circuit breaker lockdown to be for the whole country as "we're seeing that R number go up across the whole of England so we've got to get a grip on it now."

A national lockdown would also give the Government an opportunity to successfully coordinate the "creaking" Test and Trace system, she said, calling for it to move in to the hands of the local authorities.

Ms Rayner said Labour is calling for sufficient financial support to be provided, which is how the Government would sell another lockdown to those businesses in areas of the country with low infection.

"Rates are going up, even in those areas," she pointed out, "we know from the science we need to do something more than what the Government has announced."

She acknowledged that Labour had not provided any costing in this proposal but said this is because there is "different variance of how it is costed."

Iain asked why Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth announced in the Commons earlier that a national lockdown would be disastrous for society "yet two hours later that's exactly what your leader announced."

"I think actually if you look at the science if we don't do this, the scientists are saying that will be a disaster," she said.