'PM must stop fearing being called the Grinch who stole Christmas'

16 December 2020, 20:01

By Fiona Jones

Labour MP Wes Streeting told Iain Dale that the PM needs send harsher messaging about household mixing during the festivities and cannot fear being labelled "the Grinch that stole Christmas."

Speaking from Downing Street, Boris Johnson has said that Christmas Covid rules will not change and has instead urged people to keep any celebrations "small and local".

He reiterated this after appearing to be at odds with the four UK nations on relaxing the rules - despite insisting earlier in PMQs the administrations were in "unanimous agreement."

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford announced he would reduce Christmas bubbles to two households over the relaxation period, and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said shortly after it was her "strong recommendation" that people remain in their own household over Christmas.

Shadow Minister for Schools and Labour MP Wes Streeting is calling for the PM to give tougher guidance on Christmas: "The job of us all now is to help reduce infection rates because the whole thrust of the public health campaign this year has been about trying to ease pressure on the NHS and not allow the system to be overwhelmed.

"The risk is we end up back where we were with the first and second lockdowns which was that being too slow to act in lockdown one and lockdown two inevitably led to much more painful choices and much more painful outcomes."

Mr Streeting reflected that it is "not helpful" three of the devolved nations have given different advice on this issue, but "didn't blame" Mark Drakeford or Nicola Sturgeon for going with their instincts after being unable to find common agreement.

He said on Boris Johnson: "I totally understand why as a political leader he wants to avoid headlines that call him the Grinch that stole Christmas...but sometimes leadership is about telling people what they need to hear not what they want to hear.

"Lots of people who are weighing up choices about their own families would've welcomed a bit of clarity and leadership."