Vote Leave MP under fire after urging economic assessment of lockdown restrictions but not Brexit

Steve Baker on Sky News

Steve Baker on Sky News - Credit: Twitter

A Tory MP has come under fire after calling for an economic assessment of lockdown measures despite previously dismissing similar analysis on Brexit.

Steve Baker has urged the government to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of new Covid restrictions despite having previously called analysis by civil servants as "always wrong".

The government has signalled that England will return to a stricter three-tier system in place before the nationwide lockdown on November 5.

Under the revised system, the 10pm lockout rule will be eased for hospitality venues outside of Tier 3 restrictions while most non-essential shops will be allowed to re-open. 

Speaking about the prime minister's latest plans on Sky News, Baker said it was important the government assess the economic impact of its measures.

"Each measure needs to show that it can actually reduce the transmission of Covid and some of the measures can't be shown to do that in a material way such as closing non-essential retail that it Covid safe," he said.

"And we also want to see a cost-benefit analysis for each measure so we can see the measures will save more lives than they harm."

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The former ERG chair went on to suggest that government analysis on the first lockdown has shown that quality-adjusted life years for comorbidities had done more harm than good.

He continued: "We think this is very serious and we think there is lots of good news about today. There is our duty to say to the government that you need to demonstrate the proportionality and necessity of everything that you're doing." 

Twitter users were quick to point out the irony behind Baker's remarks.

Peter Thal Larsen from the Breakingviews posted: "This must be a different Steve Baker than the former Brexit minister who said civil service forecasts were 'always wrong and wrong for good reasons'."

Alan Stedman pointed out: "Hang on a minute. What happened to the CBA (cost-benefit analysis) on Brexit? Steve Baker wasn't really interested in that one. Hypocrite."

One user quipped: "Tories, knowing the cost of everything and the real value of nothing."

Another added: "Imagine if they'd have had to do that for Brexit! Baker is really on a roll this morning! Just tell him to add it to his list of complaints to the ECHR."

Baker was forced to apologise for remarks he made about the independence of the civil service back in 2018.

At the time, the former minister accused Treasury officials of deliberately influencing policy in favour of staying in the EU customs union.

Speaking in the Commons, Baker said claims that officials were trying to skew economic data were "essentially correct".

Baker apologised, saying the remarks should have been "corrected or dismissed".

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