It is a pleasure to follow Christine Jardine. The UK Government have spectacularly failed to use the time that we had to get a grip of this virus. It need not have been this way. The UK Government have failed to work collaboratively with all four nations to implement a coherent national strategy, putting people first and protecting lives. This is not for want of trying by the Welsh Labour Government, whose repeated efforts of co-operation have been ignored.
The UK Government have failed to produce a joined-up and effective test, trace and isolate system in England to halt the spread and shield the vulnerable. Where this Tory Government have squandered millions on failed attempts by companies such as Serco, the Welsh Labour Government, in contrast, have introduced test, trace and protect, delivered by local health boards and local authorities, with a success rate of over 90%.
When nations across the world such as Germany were extending and strengthening support to protect jobs and livelihoods and provide the level of flexibility needed, this Treasury was whittling away economic support, reducing the furlough scheme and failing to support the excluded 3 million. I recently asked my constituents in Cardiff North what they thought of the current crisis and how they were managing, and the overwhelming majority of businesses that took part were worried beyond belief. They are worried about their future. There needs to be a flexible economic approach that truly supports our businesses, families and people’s livelihoods so that they are not in fear for their future. The job support scheme needs to be reformed so that it incentivises employers to keep staff on rather than letting them go. That is what constituents and businesses in Cardiff North are crying out for—an economic package that allows people to isolate if they have to and provides security and peace of mind.
Businesses in Cardiff North such as Tom at Mr Brightsides café in Llandaff North, Alwen at Iechyd Da in Whitchurch, the fantastic Birchgrove pub run by the brilliant Welsh Brains brewery, and Sue and Laura at Selah café in Llanishen, as well as the self-employed and local traders—local people who support local jobs and are at the heart of our community—have all told me that what they need is sustained economic support. The Welsh Labour Government have already brought forward a wave of measures to protect jobs and livelihoods, including the most generous package of support for small and medium-sized enterprises anywhere in the UK, and a resilience fund that has supported 13,000 companies and helped to secure 100,000 jobs in Wales.
Earlier, the Chancellor called what he is doing leadership. Really? My constituents do not see leadership; they see incoherent messaging, confusion and a Chancellor who is worried more about maintaining his brand than about showing real leadership, which means changing tack in the national interest even when it is uncomfortable. They see a Cabinet at war with itself on whether to protect health or protect the economy, failing to grasp that the two must go hand in hand. That is not leadership. People are suffering. Livelihoods are being ruined, and loved ones lost. We need a reset. Stop playing games and put people’s lives first.