For weeks in October, the Prime Minister resisted a second lockdown, on the basis that it would risk being endless. The new COVID restrictions are precisely that: an endless lockdown by any other name.
The impact assessment published this week was a bland, uninformative document conjured up by Whitehall, but what it did confirm was that unemployment is expected to hit 7.5% as a result of these restrictions. That is heading up towards 3 million people!
My constituents are already seeing the consequences of this year of extreme government measures. Debenhams announced this week that the much loved department store is heading into administration, as did Arcadia, creating fears of dozens of job losses in Romford Town Centre, where Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Debenhams all employ many of my constituents. Debenhams faced difficulties before the pandemic, to be sure. However, months of severely reduced trading have sounded the death knell and prevented any chance of recovery.
These restrictions will continue to be devastating to the people of Romford, Havering, and throughout our country. More businesses will go to the wall, people will lose their jobs, and mental and physical health will deteriorate. A vaccine is on the horizon, with the NHS approving the Pfizer vaccine today. This is wonderful news, but will come too late for our economy if we continue with these measures.
As a result, I voted against these unnecessary restrictions on Tuesday, to protect the local businesses and livelihoods of the people of Romford that will be impacted by these measures.
The better way is to do everything we possibly can to protect the vulnerable and look after those who are at risk, but at the same time, get our country back to work and moving forward again.
We must do what Britons always do in times of adversity…. keep calm and carry on!