‘Huge cost to the economy!’ Keir Starmer instantly quizzed over circuit breaker plan

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Keir Starmer called for a two to three-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown in England in an effort to bring coronavirus cases down but the Labour leader was immediately questioned on the cost of his plans. BBC deputy political editors Vicki Young asked: “For weeks, local leaders including lots of Labour mayors have called to be more involved in the decisions taken for their area. You’re now talking about a return to a blanket national approach. Isn’t this going to a be a huge cost to the economy and Isn’t it better to have a tailored approach?”

Speaking at the press briefing, Sir Keir replied: “I do think local authority leaders and mayors have managed to be much more involved in the process.

“We’ve been calling for track and trace to be with them for a very long time.

“But what this is about is a break to the circuit to make sure we get the R rate down so in all of those areas we can get the virus under control.

“In relation to damage to the economy, it would be caused by weeks and months of the approach the government has set out.”

He added: “This will give us the chance to get back in control of the situation.”

In a message to the Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer said: “You know that the science backs this approach. You know that the restrictions you’re introducing won’t be enough.

“You know that a circuit break is needed now to get this virus under control.

“You can’t keep delaying this and come back to the House of Commons every few weeks with another plan that won’t work.

“So act now. Break the cycle. If you do, you will have the votes in the House of Commons – I can assure you of that. You don’t need to balance the needs of your party against the national interest.”

Sir Keir explained schools would not need to close but household mixing would be restricted, pubs, bars and restaurants would be shut and non-essential offices forced to close under the proposed “circuit breaker”.

The Labour leader said: “This would not mean closing schools. But if this happens imminently, it can be timed to run across half-term to minimise disruption. But a circuit break would require significant sacrifices across the country.

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“It would mean only essential work and travel. That everyone who can work from home should do so. Non-essential offices should be closed.

“Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who’ve formed support bubbles.

“And all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed for two to three weeks – but compensated so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all have to make. It should also mean that the UK Parliament moves to remote working.”

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