Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, has spoken out in a debate on Covid border measures, highlighting the Government’s slow action on border restrictions during the pandemic. Media reports suggest that ministers were advised to tighter border restrictions several weeks ago by the scientific advisory group SAGE, but ignored the advice.
Speaking remotely last night in Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:
“All around the world it is there for anyone who cares to look to see that those who are most successful in tackling the spread of the virus are those who crack down hardest and earliest. Unfortunately we have a Government that can always be relied on to do the right thing, but only once they have tried everything else. We hear today the news that the South African variant of the virus is now to be found in several United Kingdom communities. It is already too late to keep it out, but it not too late to stem the flow and to mitigate its worst effects.
“The frustration that I have, and that I hear from my constituents time and again, is that the Government are prepared to spend eye-watering sums of money, but then undermine the effectiveness of that by trimming at the edges. If ever there were a case of the ship being spoiled and lost for a ha’p’orth of tar, it is seen in the way in which the Government act.
“We know that in a few weeks’ time the Government will do exactly what we are asking them to do today, but by that time we will see the consequences of their misjudgment, which will be measured in lives that have been lost unnecessarily. That, surely, is a tragedy for us all.”
Reacting to reports that the Government has ignored SAGE advice to enforce tighter border restrictions, Mr Carmichael said:
“If true these reports are damning. Too often in recent weeks the Government has taken a slow response to fast-moving problems and ignored expert opinion. Until the vaccination programme is fully rolled out we will continue to pay the price for these half-measures. That means that people will die who did not need to.”