Becknham Tory MP’s anger over new coronavirus rules – “Government by decree is not the way we do things in this country”

By Lachlan Leeming

Beckenham MP Bob Stewart is among the Tory party members who have expressed scepticism over new measures ushered in by Boris Johnson to combat coronavirus, saying “I do not think another round of lockdown restrictions will work”.

In an 820-word missive published on his Facebook page on Tuesday, the former United Nations Commander also said he was “less than impressed” at Monday’s briefing by senior government advisers Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, challenging why no questions from journalists or fellow scientists were allowed.

It came as his fellow South-east London politician, first-term Orpington MP Gareth Bacon, threw his support behind the Prime Minister, saying: “We can’t avoid this problem, and unless we act, the virus will get out of control”.

However, Mr Stewart on Tuesday said he was “deeply concerned” with a lack of consultation with MPs over new lockdown measures, adding that in his view the virus was something society would “have to learn to live with”.

In his post, Mr Stewart said: “We have far more experience of and facts” on how to successfully treat the “curse” of Covid-19 compared to six months ago.

He said huge numbers of employees in his constituency “have existed on peanuts” as many industries ground to a halt during the pandemic.

“They cannot go through it all again – it’s just not possible for them. They are at their wit’s end already,” he said.

He added he and other MPs had “worryingly” not had an opportunity to vote on any of the restrictions ushered in since March.

“I am also deeply concerned about the absence of a role for MPs in these matters. Surely the government is not afraid to put these measures before Parliament for scrutiny?” he wrote.

“I am afraid periodic statements in Parliament from Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, are no substitute for rigorous Parliamentary debate – where the culmination of a vote forces the government to take account of opposing viewpoints. Government by decree is not the way we do things in this country.”

He added that, due to uncertainty over when – if ever – a vaccine would emerge for the virus, meant that society had to learn to live with it.

Pictured top: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

 


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