Public Health

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 5:24 pm, 1st December 2020

I must admit that I felt quite irritated listening to the Prime Minister’s juvenile efforts to goad Labour over this vote earlier today. Does he not understand that this is not the time for smirking and posturing, or that, in part, we are in this mess because of his repeated failures? Perhaps a bit of sincerity and humility would not go amiss, although frankly I am not sure that he does either of those things. The simple truth is that people are fed up with the shenanigans, the stop-go policies and the overly optimistic and utterly outrageous claims, and they are sick of the contracts for friends of the Tory party.

I have to confess that I am tempted to vote against this proposal tonight because I am sick of the damage the Prime Minister has done to local businesses and to the hospitality sector in Birmingham, but I will almost certainly abide by our leader’s decision because I recognise that, as we approach the worst part of winter, this is not the time for a free-for-all where we let the virus run amok. But what I would like to know is, when that decision was taken to put Birmingham into tier 3 and London into tier 2, who were the Ministers who made the economic case for London? I do not hold that against them, but I want to know why there was no one there to speak up for Birmingham.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister waffled on about £1,000 for wet pubs. That is less than £33 a day for the rest of this month. What does he think they run on? Hot air? His hot air? I really want a situation where we are trying to look after the people who need help. Our hospitality sector is on its knees and it will be virtually wiped out come March. It is time we had real, immediate and urgent assistance to keep our pubs, clubs and restaurants open. We also need measures for those self-employed people who have been cast aside by the Government and are now virtually on the breadline. It simply is not right that the Government should take into account the economic consequences for London but apply a different set of criteria when it comes to places such as Birmingham. If the Prime Minister and the Conservatives stand by and let our hospitality sector be destroyed, the people of Birmingham and the west midlands will never forgive them.