Rachael Maskell MP
Rachael Maskell MP

Friday 22 July – Speech recorded by Hansard

Shock and anger, heartbreak and confusion—stirred again by knowing that the person elected to protect us, and not least the vulnerable, sacrificed our most elderly and frail for political expediency. Ministers rallied around their master, seeding covid in care homes, embarking on herd immunity, instituting eat out to help out to help the virus to spread, locking down late and opening up early. Many died alone, locked away from loved ones. Covid is a cruel disease.

Now, as the covid wall of broken hearts stares back at this Parliament, inscribed with the names of the 129,000 lives stolen, we see the same rationale behind the Prime Minister’s plans being instituted once more. As infection levels spike, with 100 or more each day currently being sacrificed on his pyre of pride, he shouts “freedom day”. There is no freedom from the grave. There is no freedom for those retreating back into their homes, too scared to come out. There is no freedom for the millions of children missing school. There is no freedom for the shops and businesses having to close for want of staff.

Like in the story of the Pied Piper, this country is being lured into a dark place again by our Prime Minister, and tragedy awaits some. GPs are telling me that the whole system is overwhelmed. NHS waiting lists cannot cope. Businesses are teetering on the edge. People are needlessly dying. If people had not realised, he is using us as pawns in his political games to boost his ego and power, and as for Mr Cummings, he may well be revealing all, but he too is playing games; otherwise, he would have spoken before so many families were torn apart, when he could have saved them. Our politics is not a game, and I want no one to be used in this way.

Three things: first, from this point we need the management of the pandemic to move from No. 10 to public health professionals. They are perplexed by the strategy being deployed, and they could turn this around. Secondly, the public inquiry process into covid-19 must commence immediately. After this week, the families of the bereaved and those suffering with covid and long covid need answers. To delay is just another of the Prime Minister’s games as he avoids scrutiny ahead of an election while others are hurting. Thirdly, I implore everyone: hands, face, space. This is our defence against both the economic and health catastrophes, if not for your sake then for that of others.

The solidarity that we have shown in this last year is my hope. It goes to the core of who we are as a nation. We care about our country, and we care about one another. I wish everyone in my constituency of York Central and across the country a very safe summer.

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