Frontbench ‘should resign’ if they put Brexit before saving lives during coronavirus pandemic, says Philip Pullman

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: PA Wire. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Remainer author Sir Phillip Pullman has said that the government frontbench 'should be resign' if it was proven the government put Brexit before joining schemes that would protect healthworkers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Author Philip Pullman. Photograph: Michael Leckie/PA.

Author Philip Pullman. Photograph: Michael Leckie/PA. - Credit: PA

The best-selling His Dark Materials author used a blog post to claim that Boris Johnson should be 'arraigned on charges of conspiracy to murder' if it is found that he prevented the government from joining EU schemes to bulk-buy equipment for ideological reasons.

In reference to admissions the UK did not participate in bulk-buying PPE schemes, Pullman wrote: 'If it turns out to be true that the government for Brexit-related reasons refused to take part in the procurement advantage offered by EU governments, thus making it harder for the NHS to deal with the Covid-19 and placing thousands of people at risk, the entire front bench ought to resign.'

He added that he did not expect ministers should resign, and that instead they should be taken to court.

'But of course they won't: they have not a single grain of shame. So they should be arraigned on charges of conspiracy to murder. Nothing less will do. They knew the risks, and thought they'd rather appease the foaming zealots of Brexit.'

Pullman said that there needed to be big reforms in politics at the end of the outbreak, passionately claiming: 'It's all got to change.'

'If we come out of this crisis with all the rickety, fly-blown, worm-eaten old structures still intact, the same vain and indolent public schoolboys in charge, the same hedge fund managers stuffing their overloaded pockets with greasy fingers, our descendants will not forgive us.'

And he called for a halt to Brexit itself too, echoing claims Remainer campaigners could turn their attention to a second referendum after the pandemic.

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He said: 'There are so many clear advantages to being in the EU, and the benefits of leaving are so tenuous and fanciful, that we must revisit the referendum and hope that this time the Labour Party under a new leader will play a proper part in the argument; and that the lies, the cheating, the flagrant and shameless mendacity will be fully exposed by a strong, passionate, and focused campaign to remain.'

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Minister Thérèse Coffey previously claimed a PPE bulk-buying scheme from the EU would have been 'inadequate' despite delivering £1.3 billion worth of equipment to 25 countries in the coming days.

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A Downing Street spokesperson echoed the view about such initiatives.

They said of the EU schemes that 'participating in this scheme would not have allowed us to do anything that we have not been able to do ourselves'.

Pullman is no stranger to criticisms of the Tory government after calling Matt Hancock and ministers a 'bunch of crooks' after there were fears elements of the NHS could be sold in a post-Brexit trade deal.

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