It beggars belief that when we were unable to visit dying relatives, or even spend Christmas with our loved ones, there were boozy parties going on in the heart of government last year.
And yet the Prime Minister and senior ministers have been denying they even happened. At Prime Minister’s Questions, Keir Starmer made the Prime Minister agree to hand over evidence to the police regarding these events. While no gathering was legal on 18 December, it is now emerging that the Downing Street event was no quick, impromptu thank you to staff. It was, instead, an organised and planned event. I have been sent heart-breaking accounts of constituents’ sacrifices and sorrows since March 2020. The fact that people working in the heart of government felt the rules did not apply to them is unbelievable.
As this unravelled, the Government also announced a pivot to Plan B for tackling COVID. This means expanding the legal requirement for masks to more settings, work from home if you can, and a requirement to show your vaccine status or proof of a negative test for large events. But, confusingly, we can still have Christmas parties like in Downing Street last year. See here to read more. It is vital we do what we can to protect ourselves from the spread of the Omicron variant. There is now clear evidence that a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine offers the best protection. It’s vital we take up a booster jab as soon as we are invited to by the NHS. Book your first, second or booster dose here.
I also spoke in support of my amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill, which would have ensured that EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status could obtain physical proof of their status. Currently, EEA and Swiss citizens can only prove their settled status in a digital format. It is typical of the Home Office to have set up a system that does not understand the interactions that people will have to have whilst proving their status. See here to read my speech in full. I did not press my amendment to a vote as the Minister confirmed that the Government will work towards resolving this issue. I will watch this issue like a hawk and follow up if it remains unresolved