'We'll have to adapt to the new normal' Tory MP says

1 September 2020, 23:06

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Tory MP Bob Blackman has told LBC the country is going to have to adapt to the "new normal" as staff start to return to the office.

The Conservative MP for Harrow East and the Executive Secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that in London there is dependency on service industry roles.

Mr Blackman said the service industry had grown dramatically in the last 20 years with the loss of in house restaurants in businesses.

Mr Blackman warned that when children start going back to school it could cause problems on the roads.

He said that "what council have done is put in pop-up cycle lanes which are empty, they've created congestion on the roads and they've started to block roads off."

He said this would just make it harder for commuters to get into London.

The 1922 Committee Chair said that "not everyone is going to come back to the office in the way that they were before the lockdown."

But he said that we did need to see people returning to using businesses.

"We want as many people to come back, and be productive," he told Tom, adding "but not necessarily huge numbers in the way that we were experiencing previously."

The conversation comes after the Prime Minister said people were returning in "huge numbers to the office".

It comes as the Government is pushing for the civil service to lead from the front by returning to their desks, with a PR blitz due to commence this week encouraging all employees back to their workplace.

The next phase of the Government's All In, All Together campaign will remind workers about the efforts taken to make workplaces "Covid-secure", Downing Street said.

Boris Johnson, addressing his Cabinet members as MPs prepared to return to Parliament after the summer recess on Tuesday, said: "People are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country, and quite right too."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters that the public could expect to see civil servants curtailing their work-from-home habits.

But Number 10 said it was too early to be able to share data detailing how many people nationally had gone back to work, including how many in Whitehall were back to their work stations.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said: "I don't have the figures especially for today but you can expect to see more civil servants return to the office over the coming weeks with the return of Parliament and children to schools.

"We've been clear with departments that they need to ensure Government work spaces are Covid-secure and permanent secretaries have been undertaking the work to return civil servants to the office or workplace."

Downing Street fears huge job losses in town and city centre shops and cafes if workers do not return to their pre-lockdown commuter patterns.