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Sir Keir has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a two or three-week national “circuit breaker” lockdown across England to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. Papers published by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Monday revealed the government’s scientific advisers called for a fortnight-long lockdown as far back as 21 September, or risk a “very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”. Instead, amid fears over the economy, Mr Johnson opted for a limited package of measures.
Speaking at a press conference today, Sir Keir said the Government had “lost control of the virus”, and it was time to take more drastic action.
The speech was a dramatic escalation of his criticism of the Government’s approach but, according to Ashford councillor and general secretary of Labour Leave Brendan Chilton, it is not enough, particularly if he wants to win the next general election.
Mr Chilton claimed the Labour Leader needs to demonstrate “economic competence” with a new set of policies designed to revamp the economy.
He told Express.co.uk: “This is obviously going to be more difficult under the current circumstances but I think he can do it.
“He has already started demonstrating it.
“Asking to extend the furlough scheme in certain areas is a good example that he is prepared to be flexible, realising the constraints we are under.”
He added: “The Labour Party needs to very carefully consider any proposal from the Government on increasing taxes.
“That would be a disaster at the moment.
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“If you increase income tax and corporation tax at a time when they have got fewer pennies in their pockets, taking more tax is not going to help them.
“Labour needs to stand up for small businesses, family-owned businesses and oppose any increase in tax on most firms.”
Sir Keir also needs to focus on policies that will make the economy grow, Mr Chilton noted.
He continued: “It is all very well talking about schemes, training and apprenticeships… but you need the conditions for long-term growth.
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“To do that we need to restore our manufacturing base and you achieve that through a competitive currency. Through devaluation.
“When China devalued it boosted manufacturing. The same happened in Germany.
“If Sir Keir can do that, he will win back the Red Wall, he will grow the economy and create jobs.”
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