A prominent Brexiteer has suggested that politicians should have relied less on scientific experts when making decisions relating to the coronavirus.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis made the comments while discussing the latest report into the government’s handling of the virus.
Davis told LBC’s Tom Swarbrick that he was ‘not surprised’ at the Home Affairs Committee’s findings that Downing Street’s laxed quarantine policy in the early days of the coronvirus outbreak has helped it spread across the UK even faster.
Taking a stab as his colleagues, Davis said politicians had to ‘do a little more than just listen to the scientists on these things.’
‘They don’t know where the infection’s gone any more than you or I do,’ he suggested.
He said imposing a quarantine on passengers from virus hotspots such as northern Italy and Spain in the early days of the pandemic would have been a ‘reasonable thing to do’.
The LBC host probed Davis to explain why ministers had not then overturned advice that screening people at airports would be ineffective.
‘This is the problem. No minister before this government has faced in modern times the impact of this pandemic and they tend to rely very, very heavily on the advisors in the event you don’t understand the thing terribly well yourself.’
He then began backtracking, saying: ‘Now, let’s be fair. Back in February and March, very few people seemed to understand this well,’
‘That being said,’ Davis added, ‘there are some very obvious points’ such as people returning home at the end of the ski season between February and March, and families coming back from school holiday trips.
Davis worried ministers would now be more heavy-handed in their approach to containing the virus and pointed to the last minute quarantine on travellers from Spain as an example.
‘I think the late quarantine decision was not so well justified.
‘Many of the holiday destination we go to actually have lower rates at their peak than we currently have now.’
The former cabinet minister ended with a word of advice for ministers: ‘Don’t unnecessarily include the Canaries and the Balearics. Be sensible about it.’
Downing Street has defended a blanket quarantine on Spain saying it would be to difficult to police quarantine on regions in one country.