Bulwell MP says Government is guilting of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted
Like so many in our community and across the country, I was pleased to see more of society open up earlier this month, to have the chance to hug my loved ones again, and of course, to hear the sound of fans cheering and booing VAR decisions in equal measure in football stadiums once more.
As we emerge further from lockdown restrictions, the priority must be doing all we can to keep cases low and prevent further transmission.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the Indian variant, the Government has fallen short.
As we have been warning for months now, failing to introduce strong protections at the border has left us exposed to mutations of the virus, such as that from India, which has now led to dangerous outbreaks in the UK – in places like Bolton, Blackburn, and Bedford.
Evidence suggests that it could be up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant which led to the spikes in the winter.
It is not good enough to try and shut the door after the horse has bolted, by adding countries onto a red list when it is too late, which is what has happened here.
I believe that what is needed is an urgent comprehensive hotel quarantine system and this is something The Labour Party has been urging for the past couple of months.
Unfortunately, Conservative MPs refused to back the measure when we called a vote on the subject on February 1.
No-one wants to see our communities locked down again.
My opposition colleagues and I have consistently continued to call for the Government to learn the lessons of the last year, and also to act with speed in response to the increased prevalence of the variant that they have let happen.
The Prime Minister promised us an irreversible roadmap to normality.
With the spread of this variant threatening to hold us back, we must now see urgent action from ministers to contain it.
That starts with surge vaccination in hot spot areas for all; surge testing backed up by sick pay and support for isolation; and ventilation help for buildings and premises. Ministers must do all they can now to meet their June 21 target, which will then allow us even more of the freedoms we have waited so long for.