LONDON (Labour Buzz) - Last week at PMQ’s Boris Johnson angrily accused Keir Starmer of wanting to cancel Christmas. Then, in true Boris form, he went and did it himself. Barely a couple of days after telling Britain to go out and make merry, he took the holiday plans of millions and tore them up. This, Keir Starmer said, amounts to gross negligence. 

The government line claims that this U-turn comes after fresh revelations on Friday forced their hand. This new strain, they say, is up to 70% more infectious than the good old fashioned COVID 19. Indeed, some experts suggest it’s so different it should really be referred to as COVID 20.

It has resulted in 60% of the new infections in London and saw the capital and parts of the South East plunged into Tier 4. 

However, as Starmer said, blaming everything on a newly discovered variant “just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny”.

First, this variant isn’t as new as all that. Scientists first discovered it back in September. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tried to deny this, but the World Health Organisation confirmed it.

“There is no getting away from the fact – and what angers people the most and frustrates me the most is that – yet again – the Prime Minister waited until the eleventh hour to make this decision,” he said. 

“It was blatantly obvious last week that the Prime Minister’s plan for a free-for-all over Christmas was a risk too far. And yet, rather listening to concerns and taking them seriously the Prime Minister did what he always does: dismissed the challenge, ruffled his hair and made a flippant comment.”

Elsewhere in the speech, Starmer rejected a proposal from the National Union of Teachers that schools should be delayed until January 18th with remote working taking place until then. 

Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “Schools should be the last thing to close and the first thing to open,” told Sky News today. “We shouldn’t be debating whether we should be closing schools. We should we debating how we safely keep them open.”

The Tory’s had threatened to sue schools which planned to close a few days early for the holidays, especially if they happened to be controlled by a Labour council. With data suggesting schools are one of the biggest spreaders of COVID-19, there have been calls to delay re-openings in some areas after the holidays to control the spread. 

Labour, however, has stood with the government in ignoring calls from education professionals. 

 (Written by Tom Cropper, Edited by Klaudia Fior)

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