A video has emerged of Rory Stewart being ‘proven right’ on claims that Boris Johnson pursued a policy of herd immunity during the initial phases of the coronavirus outbreak.
In footage recorded back in March, Stewart said the government had been pursuing a strategy of herd immunity and that it was the wrong decision.
“What’s being done in China, what’s being done in South Korea, and what’s being done in Denmark – where they’ve just closed the schools – is completely different to what is being done in Britain,” the former Tory leadership hopeful said.
“Britain is trying to follow a theory of herd immunity – in other words, they believe it’s impossible to get on top of this disease and therefore you have to ultimately let it run through the population.”
Stewart called the decision “fundamentally” a political one.
“Personally, I think it is irresponsible of politicians to keep suggesting that this is a question of science. It gives them a bit of cover, puts the blame on the scientists, but the judgement is ultimately a political judgement,” he added.
The footage comes as the prime minister resists calls for a coronavirus inquiry, telling proponents that “now is not the time”.
He told MPs the nation’s attention should instead be focused on tackling the virus while he downplayed England’s high death toll.
This follows remarks by former Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advisor Professor Neil Ferguson that the number of coronavirus death could have been halved had the country entered lockdown sooner.
Prof Ferguson’s comments were put to Johnson, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty at the daily Downing Street press conference.
Sir Patrick backed the plan while Prof Whitty said an inquiry could cause further confusion.
“I think a variety of different people are going to come with different answers on the timing question,” he said.
“Part of the problem that we had at that stage is that we had very limited information about this virus.”
Twitter users have rallied behind Stewart. Alan Calderwood, who admitted he was not a Stewart “fan” agreed “100%” with the comments. “60,000+ dead – worst performance in Europe, possibly the world. Criminal negligence,” he wrote.
Neil Davies shared: “Well, there it is. Rory Stewart explained it way back in March.”
Jakey wrote: “Powerful stuff from the guy who has experience of managing the spread of infectious disease.”