Starmer: Labour will vote for Plan B as it's 'our patriotic duty'

13 December 2021, 19:00 | Updated: 13 December 2021, 19:19

By Will Taylor

It is the patriotic duty to vote for the Government's Plan B measures and protect public health, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said in a new message to the UK.

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A day on from Boris Johnson's speech to the nation, Sir Keir said he would still "hold the government to account in the coming weeks".

The PM said all adults will be offered the chance to arrange a booster vaccine dose before 2022.

Sir Keir warned the campaign against Covid and Omicron needed "leadership that the country can trust".

That remark follows massive anger at the PM's handling of Christmas party allegations at Downing Street when London was in Tier 3 restrictions, and at his appearance at a No10 virtual quiz late last year.

But Sir Keir confirmed that new measures, including on mask-wearing, would get support from Labour.

Read more: Boris quiz: PM insists 'I certainly broke no rules' over 'the thing with the Zoom call'

Read more: Home Covid tests unavailable and NHS jab booking system crashes amid new rules

It was known the party would back the new policies but Mr Johnson may well need Labour to beef up support for Plan B – which is being implemented to slow the spread of the Omicron variant – because of reports about 70 Tories could rebel against the package.

Sir Keir warned that because of the Omicron variant, the UK was in a "critical moment", with lives at stake and the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.

"If that happens, more people will die," Sir Keir said.

He added: "The health, safety and security of our nation and its people must always be the first priority.

"That's why we will always support measures designed to protect public health. That includes the measures in Plan B.

"We are a patriotic party, and it's our patriotic duty to vote for these measures to ensure that they go through. In doing so we are supporting the NHS and supporting our country.

Read more: 'So many they can't cope': Huge queues build as people wait for hours to get booster jabs

"But rest assured I will still hold the government to account in the coming weeks. That is also in the national interest.

"Meanwhile, I'm asking all of you to do your bit too. At this time we need leadership, leadership that the country can trust. It's a big national effort and we all have our part to play."

Thanking NHS staff and the public, Sir Keir said Brits needed to do all they can to "preserve and protect" the healthcare system, adding it is the country's "shared national duty is to stand shoulder to shoulder with our NHS heroes and the committed volunteers supporting them".

Outlining why he views the Government's new measures as important – and why he will vote for them on Tuesday – he said: “So we must do everything we can to protect the NHS. The scientists are clear our best defence is the booster jab.

“The vaccine is safe and effective. It protects us and those around us.

"That's why Labour supports the government's plan to get every adult boosted by the end of the month. Personally, I want to urge every one of you to book an appointment or go to a walk in centre as soon as you can."

He said Labour had urged the Government to "step up" sooner, and added that children aged over 12 must be vaccinated over Christmas to stop Covid spreading in schools.

He went on to say that people must stick to the rules even if they are "inconvenient" and not let festivities "divert us from our national duty".

"The Labour Party that I lead will always do everything within its power to protect the NHS," he added.