Politician loses the Labour whip after saying Boris Johnson ‘deserves coronavirus’

PUBLISHED: 14:56 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 April 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairing the morning Covid-19 Meeting in 10 Downing Street from 11 Downing Street, after self isolating after testing positive for the Coronavirus. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairing the morning Covid-19 Meeting in 10 Downing Street from 11 Downing Street, after self isolating after testing positive for the Coronavirus. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street.

A Derbyshire mayor has lost the Labour whip after claiming that Boris Johnson deserves the coronavirus.

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Sheila Oakes, the mayor of Heanor, has been forced to apologise for her Facebook comment under a post that showed a message of support for medical workers, which also referenced Boris Johnson’s condition.

She wrote: “Sorry, he completely deserves this and he is one of the worst PMs we’ve ever had.”

Her comments attracted criticism from Facebook users, with one saying it was a “cruel thing to say”.

She clarified her post by explaining: “Johnson has done absolutely nothing for the UK - have you heard how the nurses and doctors have no PPE, that there were not enough ventilators, that the NHS is massively underfunded and yet it is having to deal with this virus.”


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The Labour leader of Amber Valley District Council, Chris Emmas-Williams, said the party had withdrawn the whip from Oakes, and added that complaints had been pouring into his email box “from Powys to Plymouth” following her remarks.

Emmas-Williams said a full internal party investigation would get underway and could eventually take place by video conference, given the lockdown.

A separate district council standards inquiry may also follow for Oakes, an Amber Valley councillor since 2014, if formal complaints are made to the local authority.

In a statement on Facebook, the Amber Valley Labour Group leader said: “As leader of the Council & Labour Group I am appalled and very disappointed by the comments posted on Facebook by Cllr Sheila Oakes.

“There is no place in politics for personal and hurtful comments no matter how angry you are.

“I asked Cllr Oakes to remove the comments and apologise immediately after it was brought to my attention.

“In no circumstances can I or the Labour Group condone this sort of behaviour, it is not in being with the standards expected in public life or office.

“A full investigation will take place and appropriate action will be taken in line with the Labour Party rules and regulations.

Speaking to Derbyshire Telegraph the councillor apologised if she “upset anyone” and added that it was not her intention.

“I didn’t mean that there should be serious consequences from the virus.

“I am concerned about the doctors and nurses who have not got protection equipment who are getting sick and dying themselves. This makes me angry about the lack of help for them. It was something said in anger.

“I have every sympathy for the prime minister’s family who are suffering considerably at this time. It must be very difficult for them, and I hope his partner and the baby are well. I hope that he makes a recovery and does not suffer any long-term ill effects.

MORE: Boris Johnson was flouting coronavirus advice, scientists say

“I do regret it, and I should not have said it. I apologise unreservedly for it. We all make mistakes, including Boris Johnson, and it will not happen again.”

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