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Labour urges Government to publish exit strategy this week

Sir Keir Starmer said the ‘silent pressures’ on communities across the UK ‘cannot be underestimated’.

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Sir Keir Starmer (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged the Government to publish its exit strategy from the Covid-19 lockdown this week.

In a letter to Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson, Sir Keir confirmed that Labour would support the Government if, as is expected, it extends the lockdown later this week.

But he said: “The question for Thursday therefore is no longer about whether the lockdown should be extended, but about what the Government’s position is on how and when it can be eased in due course and on what criteria that decision will be taken.

“Ministers have argued that now is not the time to talk about this. I profoundly disagree. Overcoming this crisis requires taking the British public with you.

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New coronavirus cases in the UK (PA Graphics)

New coronavirus cases in the UK (PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

New coronavirus cases in the UK (PA Graphics)

“Millions of people have played their part and exceeded Government assumptions about their willingness to make sacrifices and to stay at home in the national interest.

“In return, the Government needs to be open and transparent with the public about how it believes the lockdown will ease and eventually end, how this decision will be informed and what measures are being put in place to plan for this eventuality.”

Sir Keir warned the “silent pressures” on communities across the UK “cannot be underestimated”, and said that to maintain morale and hope “people need a sense of what comes next”.

He urged Mr Raab to commit to setting out the criteria the Government will use to inform how and when it intends to ease the lockdown; to publish the exit strategy now or in the coming week; and to outline the sectors and core public services that are most likely to see restrictions eased.

Labour’s call comes as the Government faces mounting pressure to set out how and when it plans to lift the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. No precise strategy has yet been announced.

A Government source said: “Our strategy is focused on saving lives.

“We have been clear that all decisions will be guided by the scientific advice and data.

“Talk of an exit strategy before we have reached the peak risks confusing the critical message that people need to stay at home in order to protect our NHS and save lives.”

PA