The chair of the Brexit Party has called on the government to sack civil servants who do not return to the office because they fear catching the coronavirus.
Richard Tice told LBC’s Tom Swarbrick that Downing Street should ‘lead by example’ and let go of staff unwilling to return to the workplace.
The former MEP’s comment comes in the same weeks workers were urged to return to the office by prime minister Boris Johnson.
In July, Johnson said employers would be given the right to decide when staff should return to the workplace from August 1. He then insisted people should return in order to help struggling businesses in city centres who rely on worker footfall to survive.
A new survey published in the Times found that only 34% of Britons are back at their desks, compared with 75% of Germans, Italians and Spanish, and 83% of office staff in France.
But Tice, irate at the findings, said the government needed to ‘incentivise people to come back into the city centre, [like making] transport free for six months.’
‘The government needs to lead by example,’ he continued. ‘Hundreds of thousands of civil servants need to come back into the office.
‘And bluntly, if not, then let them go. There are plenty of other people who can do the job.’
A surprised Swarbrick asked Tice on what ground he would fire up to 66% of Whitehall’s workforce.
The Brexiteer failed to give a solid answer, instead saying: ‘If we don’t do this, the economy is literally going to go down a vicious spiral into the kitchen sink.’
He then went on to say that it was ‘not good enough’ for papers like the Daily Mail to berate firms for not forcing people back to the workplace when the news organisation’s own staff are still working from home.
Paul Niland said on Twitter: ‘As usual @TiceRichard completely misses the point. The conversation to be had is about *HOW* to make working environments safe to return to. That key factor is missing from his thinking because what do Brexit cheerleaders know about calculating consequences.’
Martin Hall asked why workers had to return to the office. ‘They are working perfectly well from home. Things haven’t ground to a halt.’
Marina Perkiss pointed out: ‘In that case, how come he dialled in for his call with @TomSwarbrick1?’