Time to Step up or Step Aside

Dear Secretary of State

The people of Birmingham are not stupid. We are a proud, diverse and industrious population, used to coping with adversity. We’ll accept new restrictions, in the battle against coronavirus, but in return we expect clarity, honesty and some respect.

Last week your office issued a statement about new restrictions affecting Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull. This was after discussion with health officials, council leaders and others. Unfortunately, your announcement failed to match what had been agreed and for several hours the hospitality sector in this city faced yet another shut down without any consultation or advance notice. You did eventually U-turn on that absurd position but not before lots of people and businesses, in the city, had been subjected to unnecessary panic and alarm.

I was shocked that when the Leader of Birmingham City Council urgently emailed you to point out the problem and seek clarity, you left it to your special advisor, an unelected assistant, to respond. He did so by sending the leader a copy of your press release rather than making any serious attempt to clear up the confusion. Is that what you think Birmingham’s worth?

We’ve listened to your outrageous stories about the availability of tests, yet almost every day I have worried parents contact me to say they can’t book a test or they’ll have to drive 60 miles for one. We remember the nonsense of your Isle of Wight App trial. We know that people died through lack of PPE and care homes being forced to accept people with the virus who hadn’t been tested. Now you blame young people for spreading the virus and claim the lack of tests are down to people wrongly asking for them. Guess you haven’t heard the advert you’ve commissioned, telling us that if we have symptoms, we should book a test.

It’s time you took responsibility for the mess you’ve made of this Mr Hancock. The people of Birmingham, indeed the people of Britain have had enough. If you’re not up to the job – step aside.

Published by

Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.

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