Labour will support new Covid restrictions ‘in national interest’, says Keir Starmer

Labour will support new Covid restrictions ‘in national  interest’, says Keir Starmer
Any new curbs must come with support for those affected, diz o líder trabalhista

Labour is ready to support new restrictions to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, so long as they come with an adequate support package for those affected, Senhor Keir Starmer disse.

Falando para O Independente the day after Boris Johnson missed a Cobra meeting to discuss the fast-rising tide of infections, Starmer accused the prime minister of being “absent” and called on him to get a grip on the problem.

Mr Johnson was forced to rely on Labour votes in a crunch House of Commons division last week to get the current Plan B restrictions through parliament, Como 99 Tory MPs rebelled.

There are expectations of an even larger revolt if the prime minister asks MPs to back tougher curbs, such as limits on indoor mixing of households or a curfew on pubs and restaurants opening.

Mr Johnson has promised to recall parliament for a fresh vote if any new regulations are required to step up action, though it is not thought he would have to do so if he was instead issuing non-binding guidance.

Scientists have reported offered him three options for potential actionnon-legally binding advice to families to limit indoor mixing over the Christmas period; new restrictions on indoor mixing, a return of social distancing and an 8 pm curfew on pubs and restaurants; or a full-scale “firebreak” lockdown.

Minutes of advisory group Sage’s last meeting on Thursday warned “more stringent measures would need to be implemented very soon” to prevent hospitalisations reaching thousands per day, warning that delaying until the New Year “greatly reduce the effectiveness of such interventions and make it less likely that these would prevent considerable pressure on health and care settings.”

Asked if Labour would back new restrictions, Starmer said: “What I said to the prime minister last week, what I say to him again today is we will act in the national interest.

“Therefore, if further measures are necessaryand obviously if that’s got the right support package around itwe will act in the national interest.

“Now it’s important because that’s the responsible position for the opposition. It’s also important on the back of last week’s vote becausebut for Labour voting in the public interest last week, -we wouldn’t even have the Plan B measures in place now.

“So my message to the prime minister is there’s deep concern in the country about the numbers. O governo, the health secretary, is hinting at restrictions, but the prime minister is absent.

“We need a plan. We need him to get a grip. We need him to share that plan with us and with the public. And if it’s the right plan in the public interest, then we will support it.”

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