Lincoln’s MP has said that the coronavirus lockdown can’t go on “indefinitely” and that the economy needs to be given a chance to “bounce back.”

Karl McCartney says the economy needs to “bounce back.” Photo: Oliver Pridmore.

Karl McCartney has been speaking to The Linc at the start of the week in which the Prime Minister is expected to reveal his “roadmap” out of the lockdown measures, which were first announced six weeks ago.

A growing number of MPs are now urging Boris Johnson to begin returning the UK to a sense of normality, but Mr McCartney believes it’s “all about timing.”

He said: “In hindsight we can see that delaying these lockdown measures, in the face of the people who were shouting from the rooftops for them to be imposed much earlier, was the best thing for the country.

“It’s meant that people have adhered to the rules and certainly my constituents began following them very quickly.

“But this can’t go on indefinitely and the economy needs to bounce back.

“I hesitate to use the ‘bounce back’ phrase but that really is what the UK needs. We can’t have a slow, gradual recovery because we need to bring back some sense of normality.

“I think we all want to see the economy coming back because we’ve got cases falling now, although the cases and deaths we’re still getting are obviously deeply upsetting for the families involved.

“But we are at the stage now where we need to be opening up the country again as long as social distancing guidance is strictly adhered to and people are making sure that they’re washing their hands.”

The Government has set out five tests that it believes must be met before the coronavirus lockdown measures can be lifted which include ensuring that the NHS has adequate capacity, that there is sufficient capacity for testing and PPE, that there is a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate, that the rate of infection has fallen and that a second wave of the virus doesn’t overwhelm the NHS.

In terms of the local picture, Mr McCartney says he has been in regular contact with senior management from the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT), which runs hospitals including Lincoln’s County Hospital.

From his conversations with them, Mr McCartney claims that Lincoln’s hospital was “as prepared as it could be” for the virus and that its full capacity “hasn’t been utilised.”

As well as ensuring the NHS is protected, another issue that needs to be addressed before lockdown measures can be lifted is ensuring a safe environment for people returning to the workplace.

The Prime Minister says that along with getting children back into schools and into care, measures for ensuring a safe workplace will be set out this week.

One of the workplaces that have been affected by the coronavirus is the House of Commons, which is currently operating under a “hybrid system” in which some MPs can take part in proceedings physically whilst most MPs have to take part virtually to ensure social distancing.

But Mr McCartney said: “The jury’s still out on that system and personally I am one of those MPs that isn’t very happy about the way this has been done.

“I can’t see why if we’re soon going to be telling businesses that they can start returning to work if they do it sensibly and with social distancing why Westminster can’t be the same.

“You can follow the social distancing rules even with all MPs back in Westminster, because you could have a system for voting whereby you would split all MPs into thirds alphabetically and give them each ten minutes to vote.

“We were managing to stick to the rules before the recess and I can’t see why we should be any different from the rest of the businesses and organisations in the country if they’re able to return to a sense of normality.

“Obviously it wouldn’t be a good idea to then return from Westminster and conduct the usual visits around the constituency and I wouldn’t put my constituents at risk like that, but there will be ways around everything and I’m sure if we apply common sense we could make it work.

“We’re all elected to represent our constituents and when you’ve only got around 20 MPs in the chamber, excluding ministers and shadow ministers, it doesn’t bode well for holding the Government to account.”

With Government attention focused on tackling the coronavirus, there have been some calls for the extension of the Brexit transition period which is the date by which the UK and the EU must have agreed a deal on their future relationship.

That date is currently set for the end of this year, but some polls have suggested that even 49% of Brexit voters now support an extension to that date.

But Mr McCartney, a Brexit supporter, says: “I totally dismiss those calls because from supermarkets to garages, many businesses have been able to continue operating in some form.

“We can all throw statistics around but the fact is that and if the EU can’t conduct talks with us using conference calls and so on, then that is their fault and not ours.”

The Government has so far refused to countenance an extension to the transition period even if the EU requests one, a move which figures including the acting leader of the Liberal Democrats has branded “deeply irresponsible.”

But Karl McCartney added: “Even now we’ve still got people like Tony Blair banging the drum for a change of heart on leaving the EU but I think the view of most of my constituents is that they voted for Brexit, and it needs to be delivered.”

The Government will later chair its daily press conference from Downing Street where it will set out the latest measures it is taking to deal with the coronavirus.

2 thought on “Lincoln MP says lockdown can’t go on “indefinitely””
  1. As the first MP I am aware of to break ranks and attack their own local council politically in the middle of a national emergency I don’t entirely trust Karl. We need to support the work of local authorities whatever their political complexion because they are keeping people alive. I and many Councillors of all parties are also engaging in this work here and across Lincolnshire. In supporting the Government underfunding local government at this crucial time he is an obstacle to the delivery of essential services that everyone needs. Happily I am hearing that the Government is rethinking its underestimates. I appreciate he wants to help the economy but he needs to remember that helping the economy and locking down very late which he defends killed a lot of people. Going back to the new normal too quickly will also kill people although I note he is happy for this to include MP’s. Please try to be more responsible Karl, the people of Lincoln and Lincolnshire deserve better than this political sniping, behaviour that could actually kill people.

  2. Karl says the government were proven correct to hesitate in putting a lockdown in place for so long – but by what measure is he using? In the 9 days before lockdown, cases of covid jumped from 200,000 to 1.5 million in the UK. All the families of the people who subsequently died because they were infected during this period (where mass gathering like the cheltenham festival were allowed to continue) I’m sure will not feel the government is vindicated in any way. Who would? Today it was reported that we have the highest death rate in the world.

    The highest death rate in the world.

    I want my MP to have some slither of compassion for all the lives lost, all the families grieving, not one who sneers at the people who saw this wave of death coming and wanted – needed – a faster response. The glib support of government weakness that condemned thousands to death is making me feel physically ill. This is life and death. Karl should be ashamed.

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