‘We need clarity, consensus and real leadership’: Tower Hamlets MPs slam government roadmap to ease England out of lockdown

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 May 2020

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor


The borough’s political leaders have slammed the government’s roadmap for easing England out of lockdown restrictions.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum and Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali rounded on plans unveiled by prime minister Boris Johnson which included telling people to return to work if they can and are unable to work from home.

The strategy includes the slogan, Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.

Ms Begum said: “Nothing is more important than people’s lives, health and safety. Nothing. Every death from Covid-19 is a death too many.

“Every person or family suffering hardship right now, is a person or family too many. No one is expendable.

Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse. Picture: Mike BrookeApsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse. Picture: Mike Brooke

“And protecting people is the first and utmost duty of any government and the primary function of our economy should serve the interests of our communities.

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“This is why so many of us are simply appalled by the government’s statement on lifting coronavirus restrictions and that workers’ lives are being put at risk by the call for them to be pressured to return to work.”

Highlighting the UK’s position as having the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, Ms Begum questions how there can be “talk of things going back to normal”.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. Picture: Rushanara AliRushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. Picture: Rushanara Ali

The MP believes these are the actions of “a callous cold government that has chosen to put big business above the welfare of the country”.

Labour colleague Ms Ali was similarly critical: “On Sunday, the prime minister’s contradictory statement caused mass confusion. He advised that we are still in lockdown, and at the same time encouraged people to go back to work, whilst avoiding public transport.”

In expressing concern over the “ambiguity” of the new ‘Stay Alert’ messaging, Ms Ali queried why neither the Scottish nor Welsh governments were consulted on it.

However, the government described its plan as a “cautious” roadmap to easing existing measures in a “safe and measured” way.

A government spokesman said: “It is subject to successfully controlling the virus and being able to monitor and react to its spread. The roadmap will be kept under review as the epidemic develops.”

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