Covid-19: Labour MP grilled on opposition's policies
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Wes Streeting sat down with LBC Radio host Tom Swarbrick for a grilling over government restrictions on Covid. Mr Streeting discussed how the opposition party Labour, suggesting that they are more prepared to protect public health than the Tory party who are currently facing their own internal squabbles following the fallout of recent controversies surrounding top Conservative MPs at Downing Street breaking their own Covid rules. Over the weekend Boris Johnson skipped the planned Cobra meeting leaving decisions on Christmas restrictions unmade.
Mr Swarbrick also challenged Mr Streeting over the government’s inaction on protecting the NHS.
Mr Swarbrick said: “You accused the government of inaction, what measure would Labour bring in based on the modelling in order to try and keep the NHS ticking over?”
Mr Streeting said: “So we will reach a view as I say between the Chief Medical Officer and the Scientific Adviser later today.
Interrupting Wes Streeting before he could finish, Mr Swarbrick said: “So you don’t know, you’re not sure what to do as you haven’t got the information but you’re accusing the government of doing nothing, but you’re not sure what they should do either even though they’ve got the information.
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“I don’t understand how you can criticise the government for not doing anything when you don’t know what you do.”
Mr Streeting said: “The challenge is Tom and people can look at the SAGE minutes publicly available now, the SAGE minutes provide some scenarios.
“And based on some pretty top-line assumptions about restrictions, what it doesn’t do is provide a level of detail about specific measures and what the impact would be.
“So at the opposition, we are at a slight disadvantage in this and we get data as slower than the government and we don’t have access to advice.
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“We don’t receive advice from Civil Servants because they’re the opposition.
Mr Swarbrick said: “No I understand that so what assumptions.”
Before Mr Swarbrick could finish the end of his sentence Mr Streeting said: “We are open-minded. One other thing I would say to reassure people again is that while Boris Johnson is being held hostage by his own backbenchers Labour is prepared to put public health before party politics and support measures.
“So there is actually no reason for the Prime Minister to be paralysed by an action because he can look to other political parties for support, but the only challenge he’s got is a political one and he’s got to put politics behind public health.
“He’s the Prime Minister and instead of hiding he should be leading.”
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer gave his comments on Boris Johnsons no show at the Cobra meeting over the weekend. Reacting to the Prime Minister absence, Starmer said: “What I want to see is a government, a prime minister, that gets a grip, that puts a plan forward that we can all get behind. But where is he? There’s a vacuum of leadership at the moment.
“The infighting is going on in the Tory party when the focus should really be on the public interest and public health. At the moment, my frustration is that the prime minister is completely absent.”
Starmer then took to Twitter to criticise Johnson’s lack of action further, Starmer said: “It is a complete abdication of responsibility for both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to miss another vital Cobra meeting yesterday. They are too busy looking over their shoulders at the Conservative party to provide the leadership our country needs.”
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