Nigel Farage has dismissed suggestions he is not taking Covid-19 seriously after launching an anti-lockdown outfit to fight against measures designed to protect people from the pandemic.
The Brexit Party leader, who hopes to rebrand his organisation as Reform UK, has revealed his own family has tested positive with the illness.
Appearing on Times Radio, Farage said he did not believe the illness was a “hoax” like his friend the president of the United States once claimed but said he was still convinced locking down the country to protect the people.
He said: “We now have a parliamentary system where the parties are out-competing each other on who can lockdown the hardest.
“We have to ask ourselves does a lockdown actually work?
“And infections are going up, deaths are going up.
“And by the way, two quite young members of my family have had this disease and are suffering some long-term effects.
“So I’m not underestimating what coronavirus is for certain people, I’m not saying it’s a hoax or anything of that kind.”
He continued: “I’m not being irresponsible, I’m not saying we shouldn’t use hand sanitiser and wash our hands, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t wear masks – although unless they’re new masks it’s probably questionable whether they help much – and I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to do social distancing.
“But what I am saying the social costs, the economic costs and the health costs of lockdown actually means the cure is worse than the disease.”
Farage has been called a “chancer” after he was reminded of past comments which defended the first lockdown.
On March 13 he remarked on comments that suggested the government might pursue a herd immunity agenda: “So government policy is that it is desirable for COVID-19 to kill hundreds of thousands of people so that we develop herd immunity. Just can’t believe it.”
He has most recently spent time on the US election campaign trail with Donald Trump after managing to avoid a travel bad to the country by using a journalistic visa.
Farage accepted there “are some risks” with campaigning in a venue where crowds were “not wearing face masks” and “packed in close together” but claimed “we’ve got to get on with the rest of our lives”.