Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged caution in the “last lap” of the fight against coronavirus, arguing there is only “a little bit more time” until all legal restrictions on social interaction are removed.
The Cabinet minister said on Sunday that “steady steps” out of lockdown are “the smart way to go” so that the many sacrifices are not squandered as people plead for hugs between family members to be permitted again sooner.
Mr Raab also said that “all the different contingencies” are being looked at when asked about a reported plan to consider offering vaccines to secondary school pupils as soon as September.
‘Hankering for a hug’
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I know that people are hankering to go a bit faster but actually we feel vindicated at taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go.
“We’re very close now to really turning the corner and I think we still need to be careful to go as I said we don’t want to see the gains lost and the sacrifices that have been made undone.
“By the time we get to June 21 almost all social restrictions will be lifted so there’s only a little bit more time to go, but it’s right to make sure we do that in a careful way.
“We’re at the end of really the process if you like, we’ve got two more steps to take, but I do think given the rollout of the vaccine, that’s exciting. It’s got people thinking about not just social interaction but of course things like hugging your loved ones that you haven’t been able to do for a while.
“I do think we just need to make sure that in the last lap, if you like, that we are careful and we don’t lose the gains we’ve made.”
Raab defends Johnson
Mr Raab also said he has “no idea” if a Conservative donor was asked to pay for Boris Johnson’s childcare as the Foreign Secretary dismissed the allegation as “tittle-tattle”.
The Cabinet minister mounted a defence of Mr Johnson on Sunday amid signs a string of allegations may be damaging the Tories ahead of this week’s elections.
But he declined to deny a report in the Sunday Times that a second invoice for lavish renovations of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat may have been settled by a Tory donor.
Mr Johnson is seeking to focus attention on tackling crime and the coronavirus recovery in a pitch to voters before polls open across Britain on Thursday.
It came as two new polls suggested the Conservatives’ lead over Labour has been cut ahead of Thursday’s local elections in England and votes for the parliaments in Scotland and Wales.