View from Westminster: Boris is ‘More Chamberlain than Churchill’

News Desk (27 May, 2020)

PM is 'trying to appease the virus instead of marshalling all efforts in attacking it', says Neil Coyle

35482Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference in March

In the last few weeks I have heard from local people making huge sacrifices in order to respect the lockdown and protect the NHS and our wider community.

The man who could not hold his mum’s hand as she passed away at St Thomas’ hospital. The woman whose mum has leukaemia and has seen no family for months. The constituent whose gran died in a care home in Lincolnshire with no family around her. I am so sorry that so many have suffered so much and would like to thank everyone for your resilience and patience in these unique and challenging times.

Almost everyone has given up personal freedoms for this period. Sadly, tens of thousands of people have died and many more have contracted the virus despite the sacrifices made by almost all of us during the lockdown. Had everyone taken the selfish, arrogant attitude of Boris Johnson’s closest advisor, Dominic Cummings, the outcome would have been far worse. That neither of them can see how upset and angry people are with their disrespect for the rules is appalling.

Johnson has always likened himself to Churchill but seems more like Chamberlain to me: trying to appease the virus instead of marshalling all efforts in attacking it. The early international advice and science was ignored. The lockdown was too late. Allowing some to break the rules is unacceptable. Even now, he is trying to bring parliament back prematurely after his embarrassingly weak commons performances. He thinks a braying mob of Tory backbenchers egging him on will help, but I suspect Keir Starmer’s laser-focused questions and pinpoint scrutiny will continue to show up his many inadequacies.

Whilst working from home, I have had some more wins that will benefit our community. The chancellor backed my call to extend access to the business support scheme to help firms who do not pay rates directly. After I highlighted the issue, an extra £617 million was provided which should help many employers in railway arches as well as traders at Borough Market for example. My campaign to ensure anyone fleeing domestic abuse has access to a safe, permanent home was accepted by ministers who are taking my amendment on the issue forward in the Domestic Abuse Bill. After a year of raising the matter, ministers are also now increasing access to PrEP, a drug which prevents the spread of HIV.

In these extraordinary times, I will keep fighting our corner and know that, for many, there will still be much hardship ahead. This crisis has also shown that our community remains very strong and has seen neighbours pull together to help each other. I hope that continues as we go forward together. In the meantime, please keep following the advice and stay home whenever possible. Thank you again for your patience and please keep doing your bit to help save lives and protect our amazing NHS.

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