SHARON HODGSON: Take border closure seriously so we can hear the final whistle on lockdowns

A deep groan was heard across the region this week, as the Prime Minister announced a delay to the easing of lockdown.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 12:00 am
Labour has been calling for our borders to be closed, to protect the UK, since the start of this year.
Labour has been calling for our borders to be closed, to protect the UK, since the start of this year.

What was supposed to be June 21 has become July 19.

Boris Johnson sees politics as a game and has once again shifted the goalposts. So, in the spirit of the Euros, let me address this in football terms.

The Prime Minister promised us a “World in Motion” this summer but, in the words of David Baddiel, has thrown it away. His decisions left us with a leaky defence and now we are well into extra time; our nation exhausted.

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By keeping our borders open, despite worrying rising cases internationally, the Prime Minister left the UK vulnerable to new coronavirus variants.

And it was entirely avoidable.

The Conservative Government were warned of the threat of variants by scientists, and Labour has been calling for our borders to be closed, to protect the UK, since the start of this year.

But the Government decided it knows best, so let’s give them the credit; let’s call this the Johnson Variant.

The Conservatives haven’t just ignored science, they’ve ignored the people of Britain.

For those couples who planned to marry after the lockdown, who have already rearranged their special day once, twice, or maybe even three times, this announcement will be yet another blow. Even with increased capacity, dancing inside is forbidden by the rules.

And it is not just couples that this affects, but the entire wedding industry which, like many, has suffered massively throughout the lockdowns.

For those on furlough, the delay brings serious worries about their job security. From July, businesses will have to pay more of their employees’ wages. For nightclubs, who have been shut since the start of the pandemic, this is clearly unworkable.

The Chancellor should link business relief to the extension of lockdown and provide proper financial support for those who need to self-isolate. But instead he is playing politics with the livelihoods of working people.

What’s more, there is real concern that the Government will continue to repeat its cycle of incompetence, as many countries with rocketing cases are on the vague and unhelpful ‘amber’ list, which Labour would scrap entirely.

The Government must take this seriously so we can finally hear the full-time whistle on lockdowns.