Brexiteer labels coronavirus lockdown ‘Project Fear 2.0’ and calls for it to end

PUBLISHED: 13:03 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:14 29 April 2020

Luke Johnson said Britain was turning into a 'failing country' during the coronavirus lockdown. Photograph: Rachel O'Brien/PA.

Luke Johnson said Britain was turning into a 'failing country' during the coronavirus lockdown. Photograph: Rachel O'Brien/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A Brexit-backing businessman has branded the coronavirus lockdown “Project Fear Mark II” and labelled Britain a “failing society”.

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Luke Johnson, a former owner of The Ivy and boss of Gail’s artisan bakery, said the coronavirus lockdown was threatening the fabric of British society and called for its speedy end.

The Vote Leave supporter told TalkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer that Britain was “a frightened society” and in turn “a failing society” before stressing the country’s yearly death toll is usually 650,000.


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He said: “We shouldn’t be a risk-averse society. Project fear mark 2 the government has undertaken to frighten us to stay in our homes means that children are not being educated. We are suffering highest number of insolvency and we’ve not seen the worst of that yet.”

He added: “We’re depriving people of their liberty. Enough is enough. We need to send our children back to school... We need to follow the example of Sweden where they have not followed a lockdown.”

Hartley-Brewer criticised the comparison, highlighting the nation had one of the highest coronavirus death rates across Scandinavia and that their smaller population and higher ratio of one-person households made containing the disease easier. Sweden has not imposed a lockdown since the virus spread across Europe.

Johnson insisted that the economic repercussion of the lockdown outweighed public health concerns. He said: “We need to look at the collateral damage from the lockdown and say that this obsessive focus exclusively on covid at the exclusion of everything else in society is damaging. We need to look at the bigger picture.”

He also criticised the government’s reliance for expert scientific advice said anyone afraid to venture out should stay home.

He said: “We’re in a democratic free society and if they’re afraid then they should stay home.”

He stressed the shutdown needed to end soon in order to kickstart the economy to fund the NHS.

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