Tory rebellion as Jeremy Hunt slams Hancock ‘Close schools now’

Boris Johnson assures parents ‘schools are safe’ for children

The former health secretary took to Twitter to criticise the Government’s response to the new strain, saying it is “time to act”. Mr Hunt said the following three measures need to be implemented “RIGHT AWAY”: the closure of schools, borders and a ban on all household mixing. He said the current situation facing the NHS is “off-the-scale” and warned the UK cannot “afford to wait” to take decisive action to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Hunt said: “No 1 lesson is countries that act early & decisively save lives & get their economies back to normal faster.

“Wuhan is now free of any restrictions – but Uni of Southampton show if they’d locked down 1 week earlier they would’ve reduced infections by 2/3.

“We therefore cannot afford to wait: all schools should be closed, international travel stopped, household mixing limited and the tier system reviewed so that the highest tier really does bring down infection levels (as with the first lockdown).”

He added: “I know all these things will be under consideration with decisions potentially imminent. My point is in the face of exponential growth even waiting an extra day causes many avoidable deaths so these plans must now be urgently accelerated.”

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Despite the need for the tightened restrictions, the Tory MP said there is “light at the end of the tunnel” due to the roll-out of the covid vaccine.

He said: “The good news is that unlike before these restrictions will be time limited to the 12 weeks or so it will take to get the vaccine out to those most vulnerable to covid – so there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Mr Hunt was Boris Johnson’s leadership rival in the 2019 Tory vote to decide who would succeed Theresa May as the next Prime Minister. 

He was re-elected as MP for South West Surrey in December 2019 and has frequently commented on the Government’s response to the pandemic in recent months.

There is currently much debate on whether schools in England should be closed amid surging coronavirus cases.

The Prime Minister sought to reassure parents and teaching staff yesterday morning by reiterating that “schools are safe”. 

Mr Johnson told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the risk to children was “very, very low” and the benefit of education was “so huge”.

He said while school closures would be kept “under constant review”, the Government would be “driven by public health considerations and by the massive importance of education”.

He added: “And if you think about the history of the pandemic, we’ve kept schools going for a long, long time in areas where the pandemic has really been at really high levels.”

As a result, most of England’s primary schools reopened today, having shut for the Christmas break.

But teaching unions have heavily criticised the decision to keep schools open, and instead called for a “pause” in reopening.

The National Education Union, the biggest teachers’ union, has called for teaching to be moved online for the first two weeks of term.

More to follow…

Source: Read Full Article