Labour leader Keir Starmer has come out in favour of a new set of national restrictions being implemented by the government “within the next 24 hours” in England amid concerns over soaring Covid-19 cases across the country.
Describing the virus as “clearly out of control”, the Labour leader said a new lockdown would be the “first step to controlling the virus”. His calls follow Boris Johnson conceding on The Andrew Marr Show today that the tier system was “probably about to get tougher”.
Starmer said: “There’s no good the Prime Minister hinting that further restrictions are coming into place in a week or two or three. That delay has been the source of so many problems. So I say, bring in those restrictions now, national restrictions, within the next 24 hours.”
On the ongoing debate around the reopening of schools, Starmer said he didn’t want to “add to the chaos that would be caused by having all schools closed tomorrow”. He suggested it was “inevitable” that more schools would close, however.
Starmer called on the government to plan for “children’s learning but also for working parents”. The opposition leader added: “It is inevitable that more schools are going to close, many will be closed tomorrow morning.
“But the more important thing, in a way, is that national restrictions need to come in in the next 24 hours. Let’s not have the Prime Minister say ‘I’m going to do it but not yet’ – that’s the problem he’s made so many times.”
Responding to Starmer’s call for fresh national restrictions, Labour left figure Richard Burgon MP has advocated for schools to be included in these new restrictions and stressed that “proper financial support” must be given to “all affected”.
Unite, UNISON and GMB, Labour’s three biggest affiliated unions, have joined the National Education Union, the National Association of Headteachers and others in calling for the reopening of schools to be postponed.
A Labour source told LabourList: “We need to consider all the measures that were in place in the March lockdown.” But it is understood that the party leadership is not calling for a national closure of schools.
The source described the Labour proposal as involving “a much clearer direction to stay at home, reevaluation of non-essential services that are open and national restrictions, rather than the tier approach which isn’t working”.
"The virus is clearly out of control."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for the UK to bring in fresh national #COVID19 restrictions within the next 24 hours – and said it is "inevitable" that more schools will have to close.#Coronavirus: https://t.co/a6s5niXAFm pic.twitter.com/va58fGg1Yt
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 3, 2021