York MP challenges Boris Johnson on the ‘scandalous’ inequality highlighted by new coronavirus report

Rachael Maskell MP challenging Boris Johnson at PMQs today. Photograph: Screengrab
3 Jun 2020 @ 9.35 pm
| Politics

Rachael Maskell took on Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wednesday) over new coronavirus revelations.

The York Central MP was the first to be called at PMQs, and raised the Public Health England Report which highlighted how older people, BAME communities, and the poorest in our communities were most susceptible to contract and die of Covid-19.

Rachael Maskell said: “Inequality is something that York experiences, and therefore I am acutely aware that some communities of York could experience a higher risk of Covid-19 more than others.

“It is absolutely right that these inequalities, brought about by poor housing, poor work, poor pay and fewer opportunities are addressed as we rebuild York after this Covid-19 crisis.

“I have called for a full economic and health risk assessment to be published as the two issues are intertwined. I will be following this up with Ministers over the coming days.

“I have further asked for a copy of City of York Council’s Risk Assessment and was shocked to learn that they did not have one – only one to address a flu outbreak, not Covid-19, when we are already three months into the current crisis and over four months have passed since the first case appeared in the city.

“Without a full local economic and health risk assessment for York, build back plans will be built on sand and will not address the cities gross inequalities.”

The exchange in full

Rachael Maskell

As the Prime Minister obfuscates over his adviser, the real scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has been exposed in the Public Health England report published yesterday on inequality and poverty. If you are black or Asian, if you are poor, if you have a low-skilled job, the mortality risk is up to double that of the rest of the population, with the poorest having the greatest exposure, risk and fate. Now the Government are seriously increasing that exposure and risk with their easement announcements. Why will the Prime Minister not publish a full health and economic risk assessment for scrutiny, to protect us all from this deadly virus?

The Prime Minister

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. This Government commissioned the review from PHE and we take its findings very seriously, because there obviously are inequalities in the way the virus impacts on different people and different communities in our country. The Minister for Equalities, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Kemi Badenoch) will be looking at what next practical steps we need to do to protect all our country from coronavirus.