Labour MP in embarrassing radio clash as BBC host exposes Starmer’s ‘meaningless’ plan
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The Labour leader is urging the Government to issue a second national lockdown to work as a circuit break on the coronavirus pandemic. But when Labour MP Rachel Reeves was asked to put a cost on the proposal by BBC Radio 4’s Today host Nick Robinson, she failed to come up with a figure and repeatedly attempted to dodge the question. The humiliating clash forced the BBC host to expose the “meaningless” approach put forward by Sir Keir Starmer.
Asked for the first time to put a cost on the plan, Ms Reeves said: “If we don’t take this action, the costs are going to be greater and we saw that with the previous response to the virus.”
“So you don’t know the cost?,” the BBC host blasted.
“Do you not know the additional cost that there would be if we closed so many businesses around the country?”
Ms Reeves replied: “Well, in the same way that Keir Starmer yesterday said that he was willing to sit down and work with the Prime Minister to introduce a circuit break, Anneliese Dodds, our shadow chancellor, is standing up in Parliament today to set out that package of measures.
“But also to work with the Chancellor to introduce a scheme similar to what we had.”
But Nick Robinson pointed out: “Sure, but will she put a cost on the measures you’re proposing?
“Otherwise it’s a bit meaningless, isn’t it?”
As the shadow cabinet office minister argued Chancellor Rishi Sunak also failed to put a cost on the measures introduced in March, the BBC host blasted: “He put an estimate of the number of billion pounds it might cost!”
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called on Tuesday for a two to three week “circuit breaker” lockdown to save lives. Starmer said Johnson’s attempt to tackle the virus wasn’t working.
But Work and Pensions Minister Thérèse Coffey said on Wednesday Boris Johnson is not yet heading towards a full national lockdown in England despite calls from the opposition leader.
“I do not believe that the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown, but as ever he is advised by scientists – he takes that decision,” Coffey told Sky.
Asked if England was heading for a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Coffey said: “I don’t believe that is the case but as I say this will continue to be a decision that the prime minister will lead on.”
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Coffey said the three-tier system of lockdowns announced on Monday should be given a chance to work.
But government scientific advisers said in a paper due to be published on Wednesday that a two-week full lockdown from October 24 could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100, The Times reported.
The paper by Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, says that “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break.”
If daily deaths reach more than 200, a circuit breaker could reduce the toll for the rest of the year from 80,000 to less than 40,000, The Times said.
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