Brexiteer claims Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance guilty of 'scaremongering'

Tory Brexiteer MP Desmond Swayne in the House of Commons

Tory Brexiteer MP Desmond Swayne in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament TV

A Tory Brexiteer MP has claimed that Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance are guilty of coronavirus "scaremongering", in a speech to the House of Commons.

Sir Desmond Swayne claimed it was a “sacking offence” for the government’s chief scientific and medical advisers to deliver a presentation to warn how 200 or more people in the UK could die each day by mid-November if the current rate of infection was not halted.

He also questioned if the prime minister has been “abducted by Dr Strangelove and reprogrammed by the Sage over to the dark side”, a reference to the 1964 comedy centred on Cold War fears of a nuclear war.

Sir Desmond said: “Less than a year ago, I celebrated what I thought was the election of a sceptical and liberal-conservative administration.

“And now I am left wondering if the prime minister hasn’t been abducted by Dr Strangelove and reprogrammed by the Sage over to the dark side.

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“The purpose of politicians is to impose a measure of proportion, a sense of proportion on science, and not to be enthralled to it.

“Now I will make myself very unpopular, but I believe that the appearance of the chiefs (chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance) last week should have been a sacking offence.

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“When they presented that graph, with the caveat that it wasn’t a prediction, but nevertheless it was clear that they presented it as a plausible scenario, with its 50,000 cases per day by mid-October based on the doubling of infections by the week.

“Not once, not on one day since March have there been infections on that day that were double that of the day of the week proceeding. Not once. Where did this doubling come from? What was their purpose in presenting such a graph?

“It was the purpose of the Fat Boy in Pickwick Papers, ‘I wants to make yer flesh creep’. It was project fear, it was an attempt to terrify the British people, as if they haven’t been terrified enough.”

Sir Desmond said he believed the government’s policy has been “disproportionate”, adding: “By decree, it has interfered in our private lives, and our family lives, telling us who we may meet, when we may meet them and what we must wear when we meet them.

“We have the cruelty, the cruelty, of elderly people in care homes, disorientated, being unable to see the faces of their loved ones and to receive a hug.”

Following the speech, Labour MP Angela Eagle said that she agreed with "precisely zero of what he had to say".

"But that's not the first time in this House that this has happened."

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