Sunday shows: Ending Covid laws on isolation “very premature”, says Labour

Sunday Morning

Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, described the decision to end Covid isolation laws as “very premature” and said Labour would not support the move unless there is more scientific evidence for it. He also defended Angela Rayner’s ‘shoot first, questions later’ comments.

  • On ending Covid self-isolation laws: “I’m very worried by the reports that the PM is planning to end free access to testing.”
  • When pressed further: “At this stage, we don’t want restrictions to be in place longer than is necessary… The PM risks muddying the waters. We want to see the government publish the scientific advice because at the moment this seems very premature.”
  • He added: “If he’s following scientific advice, the Labour Party will do the same. If he’s deviating from scientific advice, he can’t count on Labour’s support.”
  • On Angela Rayner’s ‘shoot first, questions later’ comments: “Very clearly, in the context where you have a live terrorist threat, of course police officers take immediate action, potentially fatal action, if it saves the lives of others. I make no apology for that and neither does Angela Rayner.”
  • On Steve Reed saying Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour ‘cared more about criminals than victims’: “I think that’s the perception that took hold, bluntly, that Labour was seen as not strong enough on crime, which is a terrible position to be in.”
  • On rejecting Corbynism: “The positions we’ve just discussed… I would describe as mainstream traditional Labour positions that sadly we deviated from for about five years or so.”

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, compared Russia invading Ukraine to the Second World War and refused to answer questions about ‘partygate’.

  • On Russia invading Ukraine: “All the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun…. It could be really the biggest war in Europe since 1945.”
  • On the level of support given to Ukraine: “It is true to say that in 2008, the West, NATO, could have made a decision to put Ukraine firmly on the path to NATO membership. That didn’t happen. The Article 5 security guarantee isn’t there. So we have to use the tools that we have.”
  • He said the UK’s economic sanctions “may not be enough on its own” to “deter an irrational actor”.
  • On Ukraine’s president accusing the West of appeasement: “I don’t think that’s fair. What we’re trying to do is offer every possible support to Ukraine.”
  • He repeatedly refused to answer questions about Downing Street parties during lockdown, what he has told the police or whether he would resign if found to have broken Covid laws.
  • He also refused to say whether public money will be or should be used in Prince Andrew’s settlement.
  • On Covid isolation laws ending: “I think it’s very important that we should remain careful. We’re not asking people to throw caution to the winds.” But he argued that it was time to “move away from state mandation”.
  • On scrapping free tests: “We need resilience but we don’t need – for instance on testing – to keep spending at a rate of £2bn a month.”

Trevor Phillips on Sunday

Wes Streeting said the government has “serious questions to answer” over reports that, in return for donating £250,000 to the Conservative Party, multimillionaires have been granted access to government as part of a secret ‘advisory board’.

  • On Ukraine: “We stand foursquare united here in the UK, squarely alongside our NATO allies… But alongside robust action abroad, we also need to see robust action at home from the government – particularly tackling illicit, dirty, Russian money.”
  • He added: “We support the government of Ukraine. We support the Ukraine armed forces – that’s the right thing to do, and it’s also important to send a message to our allies right across the region that the UK is with them.”
  • On Russian money: “We’ve had the cross-party Russia report of the intelligence security committee of the House of Commons, which set out a whole range of recommendations to help clean up our act here at home and to protect our democracy from Russian interference. That report has not been implemented. We have an elections bill going through parliament right now, which ironically would make it easier for foreign money to pollute our politics.”
  • On Johnson introducing sanctions targeting Vladimir Putin: “He knows he’ll have our support in implementing those sanctions. But our message to the Prime Minister is that he and his government should have acted far sooner.”
  • On Russian Tory donors: “Donors have an enormous degree of influence over the policies and priorities of the Conservative government… There are questions for [the Conservatives] to answer on this and it’s important the public is sure the government is making the right decisions for the right reasons.”
  • On reports this weekend in The Times that Tory donors have been allowed access to government as part of a secret ‘advisory board’: “The government has got serious questions to answer about that.”
  • He added: “We’re particularly concerned in the context of our discussion this morning about those individuals with links to President Putin’s regime but this applies more broadly in terms of our politics, which is that it can’t just be big money donors that call the shots in our democracy.”
  • Asked whether Labour would support lifting all Covid restrictions: “I don’t think Boris Johnson and his government should be complacent.”
  • On the government scrapping free Covid testing: “It is like being 2-1 up with ten minutes left of play and subbing your best defender.”
  • On reports Labour is planning to not target Lib Dem target seats: “There have been no talks, formal or informal, with the Liberal Democrats… We will obviously target our resources to make sure we can win as many seats as possible.”

James Cleverly, a Foreign Office minister, said an attack by Russia on Ukraine is “real and could happen at anytime” but added that “we’re going to make sure Putin understands an attack would come at a huge cost”.

On removing Covid restrictions, the minister said that the UK is “in a position where we can follow the data and move back to a normal state”.

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