Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne Criticised For Saying COVID-19 Is ‘A Manageable Risk’ That Has Been ‘Manipulated’
Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne has been called on to apologise after he described Covid-19 as a ‘manageable risk’ and told people to ‘persist’ in resisting lockdown measures.
Sir Desmond, who is part of a group of ‘lockdown-skeptic’ Tory MPs, has been condemned on both sides of the aisle for spreading ‘dangerous misinformation’ about the risks of the virus, which has now killed more than 100,000 people in the UK.
In a video obtained by Sky News taken during an interview with anti-lockdown group Save Our Rights UK, the MP can reportedly be heard claiming that the figures relating to the virus’s spread had been ‘manipulated’, adding, ‘We’re told there is a deathly, deadly pandemic proceeding at the moment. That is difficult to reconcile with ICUs [intensive care units] actually operating at typical occupation levels for the time of year and us bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year.’
The interview reportedly took place in November shortly before the current surge in cases, which has seen more than 50,000 people die from the virus in less than three months and the NHS come close to being overwhelmed in some parts of the country.
Sir Desmond can also be heard encouraging the group to continue opposing the introduction of lockdown restrictions, saying ‘As the last [House of Commons] Speaker used to say… he’d say ‘Persist! Persist!’ That’s my advice – persist.’
Labour has called for the Conservatives to take action against the influential backbencher, who has long been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s response to the pandemic. Deputy Leader Angela Rayner condemned the MP for New Forest West for ‘[endorsing] conspiracy theories about the veracity of the disease’, adding that ‘it is the duty of all of us to support the national effort to vaccinate Britain’.
Members of his own party have also criticised his comments, with Michael Gove calling on his colleague to apologise, describing the comments as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘out of order’.
Save Our Rights UK, which describes itself as an anti-lockdown group, has also made comments expressing skepticism about Covid-19 vaccinations, posting on its website that the vaccines have been ‘rushed through safety testing’. Sir Desmond has denied reports that he is anti-vaccinations, and defended his comments to the group, saying, ‘I’m entitled to answer legitimate questions that people put to me…It does not in any way mean that I accept points of view that they hold.’