Newspaper briefings have caused more people to flout coronavirus lockdown rules, claims Labour
- Credit: Archant
Shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth has accused the government of causing the public to flout lockdown rules by briefing newspapers about future plans to ease the measures.
Speaking to Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Leicester South Labour MP Ashworth blamed headlines across the newspapers over the weekend for an increase in footfall in public places.
He said: 'The frustration is that we had different briefings to different newspapers throughout the week.
'I think some of those briefings to newspapers has led to the situation yesterday and on Friday of lots of people going to parks, enjoying the sunshine.
'We have seen an increase in road traffic and I think we have seen more Coastguard call-outs than at any other point during the lockdown.
You may also want to watch:
'This lockdown, which we have been in now for seven weeks, has contributed to hospital admissions falling and the death rate falling, and you'd hope and expect that, and that is a tribute to the British public who have followed the stay home advice.'
On The Andrew Marr Show the shadow health minister questioned the government's new coronavirus messaging, warning that 'this virus really does exploit ambivalence and thrive on ambiguity'.
- 1 US election result could spark 'end of Brexit', claims peer
- 2 Brexiteer says EU 'spiteful' to end fast-track lanes for Brits after Brexit
- 3 STAR TURNS: Bond star haunted by school tragedy
- 4 'Assorted caviar' and 'board games' - Gifts confiscated from Boris Johnson due to anti-corruption laws
- 5 Former Labour MP tells Jeremy Corbyn to retire after being suspended from party
- 6 Nigel Farage places £10,000 bet on Donald Trump to win second White House term
- 7 Farage says he can dodge US travel ban because he's a 'journalist'
- 8 Question Time: Tory minister told 'diverse' cabinet doesn't erase race issues in party
- 9 Poll puts Labour on highest level of support since 2014
- 10 Donald Trump supporters duped into thanking 'Satan' for backing president's re-election campaign
Ashworth emphasised that 'absolute clarity' is essential when dealing with a public health crisis, adding that the prime minister must eradicate the growing confusion in tonight's daily briefing.
In emphasising that 'there is no room for nuance', the minister said the new message of 'Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives' has the potential to 'puzzle' people.
Andrew Marr asked whether Labour are partly to blame for the confused messaging, given their concerted effort to push the government to outline their exit strategy.
Ashworth argued that it isn't 'unreasonable to ask what the government's strategy is for the coming weeks', particularly considering the known shortcomings with testing and tracing infrastructure.
He called upon the government to treat the public like 'grown ups', rather than secretly briefing 'various newspapers' on when the lockdown may end. The reality, according to Ashworth, is that although lockdown is 'important', it is not a 'strategy in itself'.
Rather it is a 'blunt tool' during which many other societal problems are coming to roost, including the neglect of other medical conditions and the adverse impact of long periods out of school.
These serious issues mean that questions over an exit strategy are entirely reasonable, Ashworth said.
Marr also asked if there was a case for a regional approach, owing to the difference in death toll between areas according to density of population.
He questioned the logic of 'London, Leicester and Norwich' all being treated identically when each has a vastly different mortality rate.
In reponse, Ashworth said such statistics could potentially justify 'targeted testing and tracing regimes', citing the example of greater risk in urban, overcrowded areas.
He added, however, that such targeting would contradict the current government strategy of 'basically just hitting a big number', such as 100,000 tests per day.
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.