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Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 29th April 2020.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The First Secretary invites me to recognise the good work on social distancing and on critical care capacity. I do that unreservedly. It has been an amazing piece of work, particularly the ramping up of capacity, and I send my thanks to all those who have been involved. I absolutely recognise it.

I have raised these issues because they are vital to controlling the virus and protecting lives so that we can get to an effective exit strategy. The public need to know what will happen in the next phase. On the exit strategy, I want to be absolutely clear with the First Secretary of State: I am not asking for lockdown to be lifted. We support the Government on lockdown and will continue to do so, so I am not asking for that. I am not asking for a timeframe. The Government say they cannot give a timeframe. I accept that and we support the Government on that. I said that I would not ask the impossible, and I will not.

What I am asking is for the Government to be open with the British people about what comes next. That is crucial for three reasons. First, we need their trust. Secondly, the Government themselves, the public, schools, businesses and trade unions need to plan ahead, and they are saying that loudly and clearly. Thirdly, and frankly, we would like to try to support the Government’s strategy when we know what it is. It is important for us to do so if we can, but we cannot do that if the Government will not share their thinking. The Prime Minister said on Monday that he wanted maximum transparency. Will the First Secretary of State give us some now, and tell us when the Government will publish an exit strategy?