Aylesbury MP’s statement after Commons vote on new coronavirus restrictions

This afternoon, I was due to speak in the Commons debate on introducing new national regulations to combat coronavirus. I was very keen to raise the concerns of local people about further nationwide restrictions, while recognising the intense pressure on the NHS. Unfortunately, time for the debate ran out before I was called. But I think it important to share with residents of the Aylesbury constituency the comments I intended to make:

“Like my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister, I’ve strongly opposed a second national lockdown, far preferring the regional approach that I know was also the clear preference of my RHF the Health Secretary.

“In recent weeks and months, the people of the Aylesbury constituency have made huge sacrifices to try to combat the coronavirus crisis, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them publicly for all they’ve done.

“Aylesbury Vale has thus far managed to stay in Tier 1, but sadly the local infection rates have been increasing extremely rapidly and a move to Tier 2 this week was all but inevitable. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer has said several times that hospitalizations are then “baked in”.

“But let me emphasise that our local NHS Trust is doing a truly amazing job of coping with the extraordinary demands of coronavirus. Capacity has been carefully managed and the compassion and dedication I’ve witnessed has been humbling – of course by those on the front line, the doctors, nurses, porters and cleaners, but also by the senior management from the Chief Executive down.

“The time will come for an inquiry into the ability of the NHS more widely to respond to the pandemic. I for one did not expect that after a first lockdown to protect the NHS, we’d be called on to introduce a second one, again to protect the NHS.

“Likewise there will need to be a deep and honest focus on the way data is analysed, considered and provided both to government and to backbench MPs, and whether there is sufficient scrutiny and challenge.

“But for now, it seems we are left with no alternative, and reluctantly I am voting today to introduce the new national measures.

“The reality is that this is a national emergency. That these new restrictions are to protect our National Health Service. And that despite every effort to find an alternative, that means for a very short period, we will have to have national restrictions.

“A national lockdown carries extremely heavy consequences locally. I’ve had many emails from constituents who are desperately worried about today’s moves. I understand and indeed share their concerns. I am especially troubled by the impact of the closure of gyms, golf courses and churches – ways in which people maintain their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

“Nonetheless, I am absolutely confident that the people of my constituency will comply with these regulations in the national interest. But in return, I again call on the government to remember the particular sacrifices they are being asked to make.

“This especially applies to small businesses and the people who run them; I’ve said many times that Bucks is the county with more microbusinesses than any other county in the country. It is vital that there is tailored support for them to survive. There also needs to be a change of emphasis towards the directors of small limited companies – they need to be seen for what they are – entrepreneurs who’ve taken a risk with their own money to create opportunities and jobs for others, contributing to the economy and paying taxes along the way. They deserve not just financial help but also respect.

“And I pay tribute to those who will continue to go out to work, especially in schools and other key roles.

“I hope fervently, desperately, passionately that this is the last time we are asked to vote for such drastic measures. We must all play our part to ensure that it is, for the sake of our economy, our livelihoods, our mental health, our liberty and our democracy.”