Can we open up ever again? Yes, we Khan

Will London Mayor Sadiq Khan prove to be the unlikely hero for businesses who continue to be frustrated at the government’s reluctance to open up the economy?

Frank McKenna

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There was as sense of inevitability about the announcement on Monday that ’Freedom Day’, planned for 21st June, was being postponed.

In the week leading up to the Prime Ministers presser enough hints had been leaked to the press to suggest that restrictions would continue, at least for another month.

Unless I missed it, the news was met with the equally inevitable compliance from the leader of the official opposition Keir Starmer, and apparently polls show that the majority of the country continue to support the government’s approach.

However, one significant thing did shift following the announcement. A leading Labour politician decided to call Boris Johnson out, and expressed his disillusionment with the latest decision.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has, maybe a little belatedly, woken up to the reality that his city and the businesses within it are being crippled by the failure of the government to take advantage of the fact that the UK is the most vaccinated country in Europe.

His change of direction, alongside the growing discontent of Tory backbench MPs, may finally provide those of us who are sceptical about continued lockdown measures a long overdue voice.

The cabinets strategy of taking its decisions entirely through the lens of the COVID pandemic, without balancing this with the consequences around wider health issues, education, jobs, and the economy, has been baffling. However, in the absence of any push back from Labour, or indeed the mainstream media, perhaps it is natural for the government to continue its one-trick approach to tackling the virus. But, now that Khan has spoken up – hopefully to be joined by other Labour voices – Boris Johnson may see the need to think again.

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