Labour branded ‘cowardly’ as party set to abstain from Commons vote on Covid rules

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Labour said it would abstain in Tuesday’s Commons vote as Sir Keir Starmer said it would not be in the national interest to vote down the measures at a time when the virus continued to represent a “significant risk”. Sir Keir Starmer said Labour still had “serious misgivings” about the Government’s plans but the Labour leader accepted that some restrictions were still needed. But, radio caller, Jill from Cornwall hit out at Labour MPs for not making a decision.

Speaking to LBC, Jill said: “If they have the courage of their convictions and they don’t support it, they should back away from it and then maybe things can be changed.

“But if they feel that they cannot, I think it’s so cowardly to abstain.

“I’m sorry, we pay these MPs huge salaries to make decisions that we don’t have to or don’t want to make.”

She added: “I feel incredibly sorry for Boris because this is a position that a Prime Minister has never been in and everything is like a new step to him.

“It’s like a step into the darkness.

“Everything he does is going to be examined really closely because we’ve never been down this road before.”

Mr Johnson criticised Labour for having “no credible plan” to tackle coronavirus ahead of votes in the Commons.

He said: “We’re trying to look after pubs, restaurants, businesses across this entire country and no-one feels the anguish of those businesses more than this Government.

“I do think, however, it is extraordinary that in spite of the barrage of criticism that we have, we have no credible plan from the party opposite, indeed we have no view on the way ahead.

“It’s a quite extraordinary thing that tonight, to the best of my knowledge, (Sir Keir Starmer) who said he’s always going to act in the national interest, has told his party to sit on its hands and to abstain in the vote tonight.

“And I think the Government has made its decision, we’ve taken some tough decisions and the Labour opposition has decided tonight, heroically, to abstain and I think when the history of this pandemic comes to be written, I think the people of this country will observe that instead of having politicians of all parties coming together in the national interest, they had one party taking the decisions and another party heroically deciding to abstain.”

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But the Labour leader told MPs: “We’re now on at least the fifth (plan) – with an even bigger promise that never materialises.

“After eight months, the Prime Minister should not be surprised that we and many of the British people are far less convinced this time around.”

He added: “The public health risk of the Prime Minister’s approach is significant.

“The prevalence of the virus remains high – even if the R rate is below 1 it’s only just below 1 – and we know the virus is at its most deadly during the cold winter months, exactly when the NHS is under the most strain.”

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