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Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Thank you for your statement, Mr Speaker. I thank MPs for the very responsible approach they have taken to today’s Question Time by sitting a suitable distance apart to avoid cross-fertilisation of this horrible disease.

I also want to join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, who was killed in Iraq last week. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

Today people are mourning the loss of loved ones, and many more will be suffering from the effects of coronavirus, including those already losing work or losing their jobs who are worried about whether they can keep a roof over their head. Our greatest thanks must go to the frontline medical and public health staff who are fighting to combat the spread of the disease, to the public servants, particularly postal workers, who have made such sacrifices today, and to the cleaners who are providing vital support. We must also thank those working round the clock to make sure our shops and warehouses are stocked with the essential food supplies that everybody needs.

We on these Benches will do our duty to hold the Government to account. Together, we need to ensure that the most effective action is taken to protect people, and it is in that spirit that I ask questions of the Prime Minister today.

Every member of the public will make sacrifices in the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, but those on low pay, self-employed workers and small business owners are understandably worried. Sue wrote to me this week. Her family is in isolation, and she says the current £94.25 a week statutory sick pay is

“not enough to pay for their food shopping.”

Can the Prime Minister do what the Chancellor repeatedly refused to do yesterday and pledge to increase statutory sick pay to European levels?