The Delta variant is only here because Conservative ministers failed
Throughout this pandemic, Labour has said put the national interest first. Our priorities are the priorities of the British people: saving lives, protecting livelihoods and supporting our NHS.
Across England, families are looking forward to seeing more of the restrictions lifted. They want the chance to spend more time with their loved ones, while businesses are hoping for a further return to normality. And yet, all that is now at risk because of the incompetence of this Conservative Government, with more and more talk of a delay to the unlocking.
The reason we are here, is that the Delta variant of Covid – first discovered in India – is spreading so fast: 40% to 60% faster than even the Kent variant. It now makes up nearly all - 91% - of new cases in the UK and up to 9 June over 42,000 thousand people have tested positive of the Delta variant.
The reason the Delta variant is here, and multiplying so rapidly – is because of the dreadful, ill-judged decision-making of Conservative Ministers.
It has been clear for months that one of the biggest threats in our fight against Coivd, is the new variants that can spread quickly and potentially threaten vaccine efficacy.
That is why we in the Labour Party have been campaigning so hard for a stricter border policy against Covid. We held a vote in the House of Commons in February to try and force the Government to introduce a proper hotel quarantine policy: that would have a comprehensive policy for arrivals into the UK having to quarantine in hotels – and Keir Starmer demanded Boris Johnson act on this.
We warned that failing to do this would let in new variants; it is what SAGE advice warned. Sadly, the Conservatives failed to act, and this has come to pass.
Disastrously, Ministers dithered for 14 days before putting India onto the Red List, when, tragically, the virus was raging there. Data shows that, during that time at least 20,000 passengers who could have been infected with Delta variant arrived here from India. Nobody is blaming people who travelled when they were permitted to do so; the blame lies with the Government for its unjustifiable two-week delay. It is also the fault of the Government and its lax border policy that 1.59 million people flew in to the UK in the first four months of this year. This was reckless beyond belief from the Prime Minister and Home Secretary.
It makes me angry that Ministers ignored so many expert warnings about what was needed to be done to try and keep new strains out of the country. Instead, we now have a strain of the virus spreading quickly, which is putting people’s livelihoods at risk. Yet again, it is dangerous Conservative incompetence and the British people are paying the price.
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