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'The government has lost control of COVID': MP calls for another national lockdown

Victoria Bell
·4-min read
Labour councillor Claudia Webbe speaks during a leadership campaign rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn at Ruach City Church in Kilburn, north London. Sunday August 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Labour councillor Claudia Webbe speaks during a leadership campaign rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn at Ruach City Church in Kilburn, north London. (PA)

A Labour MP has called for another national lockdown as coronavirus rates rose dramatically after an IT glitch caused 16,000 cases to go unreported.

Claudia Webbe, who was suspended from the Labour party last week after she was accused of sexual harassment tweeted: “Govt has lost total control of #COVID19. A national lockdown is needed. Extend both the eviction ban for renters & furlough scheme. Protect jobs & introduce a #WealthTax.”

Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has maintained that a second national lockdown would be a “government failure”.

Starmer said in September that a second lockdown would take an “immense toll on people's physical and mental health and on the economy”, and accused the government of losing control of the testing system.

On Sunday, it was revealed that nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus went unreported in daily case figures between 25 September and 2 October due to an IT glitch, reportedly caused by an Excel spreadsheet reaching its maximum file size.

The error means efforts have been delayed to trace contacts of a person who tested positive.

Read more: Where did the missing 16,000 positive coronavirus tests come from?

On Monday, Labour accused the government of overseeing a “shambolic” system.

Leicester East MP Webbe, who back in June called on the government to introduce the first local lockdown, also called for an eviction ban and furlough scheme extension.

Watch: Starmer: Second national lockdown would be sign of government failure

The furlough scheme is due to end this month, to be replaced by the government's new wage subsidy programme, the job support scheme, from 1 November.

Labour has demanded the government further extend the eviction ban to ensure people do not lose their homes as a result of the pandemic.

Read more: Rishi Sunak: 'I don't want to be prime minister'

Webbe was elected as a Labour MP in December’s general election after nearly 10 years as a councillor in Islington, north London. Earlier in her career, she had been an adviser to Ken Livingstone while he was mayor of London.

Last week Webbe was charged with harassing a woman after a file of evidence was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by the Metropolitan Police.

(left to right) Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, and Labour councillor Claudia Webbe address protesters during a solidarity rally in Windrush Square, Brixton, south London, to show support for the so-called Windrush generation after it emerged that the Home Office destroyed thousands of landing cards documenting the arrival of windrush-era migrants. Picture dated: Friday April 20, 2018. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment.
Diane Abbott and Claudia Webbe address protesters during a solidarity rally in Windrush Square, Brixton, south London, to show support for the Windrush generation in 2018. (PA)

Webbe is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 11 November to face one count of harassment between 1 September, 2018, and 26 April, 2020.

Jenny Hopkins, from the CPS, said: “Criminal proceedings against Ms Webbe are now active and she has the right to a fair trial.

Read more: The government has lost control of the virus – Labour leader

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

In a statement, the MP said: “I am innocent of any wrongdoing and look forward to proving this in court. I will be vigorously defending myself against these claims.”

Her comments on Monday come as many have said that the local lockdowns have not worked, describing them as “draconian” measures that will damage jobs and mental health.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says a second national lockdown would be a government failure. (PA)

Professor Robert Dingwall, who reports to the government’s Sage scientific advisory group, said: “There is only one of the local lockdown areas, Luton, where there appears to have been any benefit from the lockdown and cases are rising again there.

“Which strongly suggests to me that many of the measures are ill-considered or at least lack a clear evidence base.”

People in England face £10,000 fines for not self-isolating

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