Norfolk MP George Freeman calls for unity in ‘war against virus’
A Norfolk MP has called for the UK’s politicians to join forces in “a war against a virus” as they battle the coronavirus outbreak.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman reiterated his call for the newly-elected Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, to be part of government meetings and security briefings during the crisis.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Freeman said: “It’s not a war, but it is in many ways a war against a virus and this could go on for quite a long time.
“I think the public want to see a genuine national effort - everyone working together.”
He added: “That’s why I’ve suggested Keir Starmer - now he’s been elected and congratulations to him - should be invited to join Covid cabinet, Cobra and where appropriate stand with the prime minister to give public messaging in this time of national crisis.”
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Mr Freeman, who spoke on the Radio Four programme The World This Weekend, admitted he understood “there are risks for the leader of the opposition” but added: “I think there are also huge opportunities to show that he intends to lead an opposition that is fit for government and put the national effort first.
“This is an uncomfortable time and there is no comfort zone. I think the public just want to see all politicians pulling together.”
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It follows Sir Keir’s landslide victory in the Labour leadership race which saw him take 56pc of votes as the results were announced on Saturday, knocking out rivals Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey in the first round.
The leader of the opposition, who described his election as the “honour and privilege of my life”, was briefed by government officials including the chief medical and scientific officers, over the weekend and said he would “work to those arrangements [with the prime minister] over the coming weeks”.
Speaking to this newspaper ahead of his election, Sir Keir said: “We have to have the courage to say the government’s got it right when it has got it right.
“Examples of that would be the income support package which, broadly speaking, is right.
“But we also have to have the courage to challenge them when they’re not getting it right and the most obvious example is testing.
“We’re calling them out, not to score a point, but to make sure things improve because they desperately need to improve. We need to ramp up testing because we need a viable exit strategy.”