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COVID-19 update: delay Brexit to fight the virus & commit to an inquiry

June 11, 2020 5:02 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Government must not only be held to account, but step up and solve the crises as quickly as possible - and delay Brexit until they've sorted out the COVID-19 crises.

After failing to provide adequate PPE, testing and public health advice, it's no surprise that public trust in the Government is waning. People have made heartbreaking sacrifices. They deserve to know the truth. The Government must commit to a public inquiry to ensure it does not repeat the mistakes of the past.The fact remains that a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system is still the only way to keep people safe as we move out of lockdown.

Yet the Government still hasn't delivered on this, and apparently won't be able to until September. Ministers can't even provide figures for the number of people being tested day-to-day.

The Prime Minister needs to be utterly transparent about the barriers to opening schools, the limits to testing capacity and the issues affecting the test, trace and isolate system.

As more and more questions are raised about key decisions throughout this crisis, Boris Johnson must now commit to an independent inquiry into his Government's handling of this pandemic. The British public deserve to know the truth.

Yesterday, Acting Leader Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister to confirm there would be a full independent inquiry into the Coronavirus so that we can learn from the mistakes that have been made, and ensure our communities are never thrown into a crisis like this ever again.

Whether it is the scandalous lack of PPE for frontline workers, the current failure to properly test, trace and isolate, or the true number of deaths, the Government must not only be held to account, but step up and solve these crises as quickly as possible.

Delay Brexit to focus on fighting COVID-19The British people have gone through enough in 2020 - they deserve better than needlessly risking a No Deal Brexit.

This week we should have had the second reading of the Liberal Democrats' Bill to guarantee an extension to the Brexit transition period.

Instead the government have ensured that this bill will not progress until after the extension deadline

The British people deserve better than needlessly risking No Deal

With just over two weeks to go until the deadline for extending the transition period, the timings were already incredibly tight. Those who voted Leave and Remain alike have called for the transition period to be extended. It makes no sense to anyone for us to crash out of the EU without a deal in place, especially as we deal with the terrible human cost and economic toll of COVID-19.

The stakes couldn't be higher.

Just this week, the pharmaceutical industry warned that some stockpiles of medical supplies have been "used up entirely" by the virus. Building these stockpiles back up without a deal with the E.U., and as our healthcare sector faces the winter flu season, will be incredibly difficult.

At the same time, coronavirus is wreaking terrible damage to our economy.

The economic damage caused by this disease will hit those on lower incomes the hardest. As millions of people across the country have felt anxiety caused by being furloughed, losing business, or being made redundant, the last thing they need is a government willing to risk a chaotic No Deal crash out of the E.U.

The government's stubbornness on this issue, and their willingness to put party ideology over the national interest, could cost lives and livelihoods.

Liberal Democrats will continue to urge the government to extend the transition period for the maximum time available so that our economy, healthcare sector, and supplies of food and medicines have the time and bandwidth to cope with Covid-19.