South Shields MP blasts Number 10, claiming inaction and 'incompetence' led to third national lockdown

The MP for South Shields has slammed what she called the Government’s ‘shambolic’ response to the new covid strain, which has resulted in a fresh national lockdown being called.
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Emma Lewell-Buck said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest U-turn over schools, which accompanied last night’s announcement of a third national lockdown, was “an absolute shambles” and “symptomatic” of Number 10’s wider mismanagement of the pandemic response.

This week, England will enter its third national lockdown since the outbreak of Covid-19 last March, with Mr Johnson warning that the weeks ahead will be “the hardest yet”.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck. Picture by FRANK REIDSouth Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck. Picture by FRANK REID
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck. Picture by FRANK REID
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Mrs Lewell-Buck argued that, since the ultra-infectious new viral strain was first identified in the autumn, this latest quarantine could have been avoided.

"Right up until Sunday, the Prime Minister was saying schools were safe and then 24 hours later he decided they weren’t,” she said.

"The whole thing is an absolute shambles and has caused utter chaos for teachers, headteachers, parents, pupils. It’s symptomatic of how they handle everything – sheer incompetence and I’m fed up with it.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck co-signed a letter to Mr Johnson this week which demanded that Number 10 address the ‘digital divide’ that was made evident during the first national lockdown by providing schoolchildren with adequate resources to enable distance learning.

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In November 2020, the Gazette reported schools across the borough had been denied hundreds of IT support devices for disadvantaged children which the Government had promised earlier in 2020.

Approximately 9% of children nationwide are thought not to have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet. Ofcom puts the figure at nearly 2 million children in total.

"This virus will be with us for a long time,” Mrs Lewell-Buck added.

"I’m sick of the Government pretending it's something that’s just going to disappear. We need to learn to adjust how we live with it safely to avoid constantly shutting the country down.

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"What the Government could have put in place is airport testing, a decent track and trace programme, a proper vaccination programme plan rollout - because they haven’t done that yet - along with increased sick pay, increased isolation payments.

"With more robust public health messaging, this would be a better way of getting us through Covid than just this never-ending cycle of massive panic and then national lockdowns.”

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