Rory Stewart ‘proven right’ as video re-emerges of him claiming PM was making wrong judgements on coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 12:21 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:54 11 June 2020
A video has emerged of Rory Stewart being ‘proven right’ when he claimed that Boris Johnson was making the wrong decisions in his response to the coronavirus, which he said appeared to be a strategy of herd immunity.
Become a Supporter
Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.
In footage recorded back in March, Stewart said the government was pursuing a strategy of herd immunity and that it was the wrong decision.
“What’s being done in China, what’s being done in South Korea, and what’s being done in Denmark - where they’ve just closed the schools - is completely different to what is being done in Britain,” the former Tory leader hopeful and MP said.
“Britain is trying to following a theory of herd immunity - in other words, they believe it’s impossible to get on top of this disease and therefore you have to ultimately let it run through the population.”
Stewart called the decision “fundamentally” a political one.
“Personally, I think it is irresponsible of politicians to keep suggesting that this is a question of science. It gives them a bit of cover, puts the blame on the scientists, but the judgement is ultimately a political judgement,” he added.
The footage has resurfaced as the prime minister quells calls to review decisions made at the start of the outbreak. Johnson iterated that now ‘is not the time’ to look back at where wrong decisions may have been made and told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions that international comparisons should not be made until the crisis was over.
It also comes as former Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advisor Professor Neil Ferguson said the number of coronavirus death could have been halved had the country entered lockdown sooner.
Prof Ferguson’s comments were put to Boris Johnson, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty at the daily Downing Street press conference.
Sir Patrick said it would be important to look back and see what measures had been most effective, and would be useful in determining what measures to implement in the future, if necessary.
He added: “So I think those are important scientific questions to address, and they haven’t yet been fully addressed.”
Prof Whitty said it was important to learn lessons from what had happened in the outbreak. “I think a variety of different people are going to come with different answers on the timing question,” he said.
“Part of the problem that we had at that stage is that we had very limited information about this virus.”
Twitter users have been rallying behind Stewart. Alan Calderwood, who says he is “no fan” of the politician, agreed “100%” with the comments. “60,000+ dead - worst performance in Europe, possibly the world. Criminal negligence,” he wrote.
Neil Davies shared: “Well, there it is. Rory Stewart explained it way back in March,” while Patricia Hamill said: “Wow... how right was he?”
Jakey wrote: “Powerful stuff from the guy who has experience of managing the spread of infectious disease.”
@mafevema said it was a “shame” Stewart was not prime minister. “And another prescient clip of @RoryStewartUK in early March with emphasis on political responsibility & difference between scientific advice used for cover by HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] & political decision.”
Become a Supporter
Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter