Monday, May 23, 2022
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View from Westminster: The virus is till with us and the government must play by the rules

It was fantastic to see the whole country coming together to support the England team during the Euros, except for the random Tory MP who refused to watch at all, writes Neil Coyle…

The final was devastating but Southgate and the team have so much to be proud of and provided joy and hope to us all after such a difficult period living through COVID-19.

The government’s attempt to “stoke the fire” of division, as one England player put it, backfired spectacularly. To try and use the tournament to play silly ‘culture war’ games was sickening, but was also ultimately futile. Southgate and his heroes won that match 10-0 with their unity, positivity and sheer class! I am very pleased that our council is offering Southwark born England hero Jadon Sancho ‘Freedom of the Borough’ to recognise his talent, contribution and his status as a role model.

Someone not exactly acting as a role model however, is our wayward prime minister, who is rolling back some of the support previously offered during COVID, as well as taking a big gamble lifting protections against covid. Infections and hospitalisations are reaching huge levels again and the UK has already suffered a terrible excess death rate, awful economic damage and seen the government squander more than any other country.

The virus is still with us and is still very dangerous. My brother and one of my team have COVID and others in my immediate family and staff are isolating, just like 500,000 other Brits ordered to self-isolate. The fact that the prime minister and chancellor tried to avoid playing by the rules and then lied about it is simply shameful after so many instances of rule-breaking by leading Tories, like Cummings and Hancock.

Please keep wearing masks on public transport and ensure you get your vaccinations. The NHS has worked tremendously hard to get people double-jabbed in Southwark, including using walk-in schemes at the Tate Modern and The Den. To find your nearest drop-in vaccination centre please check: and encourage family and friends to get theirs too!

After the huge recent fire at the Elephant and Castle I went to meet the new Fire Brigade Commander at the Old Kent Road station to pass on my thanks for the speed, courage and professionalism of his crews who were able to bring things under control so quickly and ensure that no one was seriously injured despite the dramatic scenes. It was also lovely to see a sweet lady also drop by whilst I was there to thank the crew for rescuing her from a lift the day before!

I have been really pleased to get back out and about with mobile advice sessions in our community in Walworth, Bermondsey and in Rotherhithe in two weeks. I hope the council reopens community halls now but have invested in a gazebo so let me know if you want me to literally pitch-up in your area to hear concerns and help!


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