One of my main reasons for wanting to enter Parliament in the first place was to protect and extend people’s personal freedoms, so voting for the new national lockdown not only went against my political principles, but was also a conflict with my DNA.
However, I did so after thinking very hard about it, having had many discussions and considering other options. My main reason for supporting the lockdown was to ensure that our hospitals are not overwhelmed. At the time of writing, there are 10,971 Covid patients in hospitals in England, which is 2,376 more than this time last week. And it is important to ensure that there are always hospital spaces for people, with Covid or other illnesses, who need them. If our hospitals became overwhelmed, which could happen by mid-December if we don’t slow down the spreading of the disease, medical staff would have to decide which patients to treat and which not to treat, possibly allowing them to die. That is an unacceptable situation to allow to come about and it is why other countries on the continent are taking similar steps.
I am concerned about the economy and people’s jobs and I am working to help ensure that the Chancellor puts in place sufficient support packages. I am also concerned about some of the inconsistencies in the dos and the don’ts which are included in the lockdown and am in regular touch with Ministers on these issues.
The current arrangements have to end on 2nd December by law. At that point, if further measures need to be taken, Parliament will have to approve them so we can have another look then. However, in the meantime, I am making it clear to the government that I cannot be assumed to vote for further measures and will need persuading that they are necessary if indeed they are proposed. I’m saying to the government, use the next month wisely to a) improve track and trace; b) increase rapid testing; c) work on the vaccine; d) sort out the inconsistencies in the rules; and e) increase hospital staffing to ensure that the NHS doesn’t become overwhelmed.
The House of Commons voted in favour of the lockdown by 516 votes to 38 so there is wide recognition that these measures are necessary. However, many MPs, like me, voted in favour with a very heavy heart, in order to help protect the NHS, but there is now much work to do to also protect businesses and jobs, and to ensure we return to allowing people to live their lives in the way they wish to live them.