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Sir Keir Starmer says his 'default position' is to support lockdown powers extension

22 March 2021, 09:44 | Updated: 22 March 2021, 18:56

By Kate Buck

Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC his "default position" on Boris Johnson's extension to lockdown powers will be to support it.

Speaking on his monthly-phone in with LBC listeners, the Labour leader "We will look at the regulations but we have supported the government in these regulations every time they have put them before Parliament and that would be my starting position.

"We're not out of the pandemic. We are still rolling out the vaccine and in those circumstances I think the Government needs these powers and I would be slow to vote against powers which allow statutory sick pay to start on day one, which is very important during the pandemic, and against provisions which say you can't be evicted during the pandemic if you've fallen behind in arrears.

Read more: Tory rebels challenge PM's plans to extend ‘authoritarian’ lockdown powers until October

"We will see what the Government puts on the table but my default position is that we will be supporting the Government on this."

Boris Johnson has been facing mounting pressure to justify seeking a six-month extension to the "authoritarian" lockdown powers in England
Boris Johnson has been facing mounting pressure to justify seeking a six-month extension to the "authoritarian" lockdown powers in England. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson has been facing mounting pressure to justify seeking a six-month extension to the "authoritarian" lockdown powers in England, amid a Commons rebellion from Conservative MPs.

The Government is expected to receive approval from MPs to extend measures within the Coronavirus Act until October amid fierce criticism from some of its own number that the roadmap out of lockdown isn't fast enough due to the success of the UK's vaccination rollout.

MPs are set to vote this week on whether or not to extend the powers.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith on Sunday called for the economy to be opened up again and for government scientists to follow data, not dates to get the country back up and running.

Sir Iain was asked during an appearance on Swarbrick on Sunday on LBC whether some types of behaviour, like protesting, might be criminalised for longer than was necessary due to government plans to keep lockdown powers in place for another six months.

READ MORE: Ursula von der Leyen threatens to block 19m AstraZeneca vaccine doses from leaving Europe

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Sir Iain said: "We're getting mixed messages from the scientists, I must say.

"They said originally that they would be led by the data, not the dates. The problem is now it appears they are being led by the dates, not the data.

"It's very clear that everything is going to plan with regards to the vaccines, and the protection of the UK public, the figures are falling. Dramatically.

More to follow...