Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 policy critics: who says what? | Coronavirus outbreak

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The brewing rebellion among Tory backbenchers over the lack of scrutiny afforded to parliament on Covid-19 restrictions – as well as concerns about their impact – has left Boris Johnson facing criticism from within and outside his party. Here are some of the more pointed comments levelled against the prime minister and his policies from across the political divide.

Steve Baker

The Tory MP, who is helping to organise Conservative rebels backing a bid to give parliament a vote ahead of further coronavirus restrictions, compared Johnson to the King of Rohan, a character in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings who is under the spell of his adviser, Wormtongue. He told Times Radio on Monday:

“Many of us will have seen Lord of the Rings and there’s a scene in Lord of the Rings where Théoden, the king, is under the spell of his advisers, and he has to be woken up from that spell. And when he wakes from that spell, joy comes to pass in the kingdom, and I’m afraid, at the moment, somebody needs to wake Théoden from his slumber. And when Théoden awakes, and I mean Boris [Johnson], everything will come right.”

Andy Burnham

The mayor of Greater Manchester suggested the newly imposed 10pm closing time for pubs was counterproductive, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday:

“I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed out to the rafters with people gathering. I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country. My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good.”

Sir Graham Brady

Brady’s amendment seeking to give parliament a chance to debate and vote on future Covid-19 restrictions before they are enforced has gathered support from more than 50 Tory MPs. The chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers wrote in the Telegraph on Saturday:

“Ministers need to be reminded that parliament isn’t an ornament or a rubber stamp: it is from parliament that their powers are derived. We vest those powers in a government on behalf of the people whom we represent but we do so on the condition that we will continue to hold ministers to account.”

John Apter

The national chairman of the Police Federation said officers were struggling to disperse large crowds prompted by the 10pm pub curfew, telling the Today programme on Monday:

“You might only have one or two people in a busy high street at 10pm when hundreds and hundreds of people are coming out on to the streets. My colleagues will do the best they can to encourage and coerce people to move on but it is really difficult. All that you need is a hostile group that turns against those officers and the resources for that city centre are swallowed up dealing with that one incident.”

Harriet Harman

The former interim Labour leader, who is backing Brady’s amendment, told the Guardian last week:

“The thing is everyone is working together to press the government to recognise that they can’t just keep making and changing the criminal law without any reference to parliament.”

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 policy critics: who says what? | Coronavirus outbreak

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