Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, welcomed the UK government’s plan to take the country out of the ongoing national lockdown, calling it a “step forward.”
But he said the pace of the planned exit is “slower than many of us would have liked” and “slower than the data would suggest is possible.”
Under the government plan, COVID-19 restrictions on social contact will not be completely removed until June 21 at the earliest.
Brady said there is “some frustration” among Tory MPs, who “would like to see more progress, more freedom given back to our constituents.”
“My most fundamental concern about the lockdown approach is that it has interfered with really fundamental human rights,” he said, citing as an example rules which effectively prevent people from seeing their children or their grandchildren if they belong to another household.
“These are intimate details of people’s family and private lives,” he said, “it’s not for government to get involved in that.”
“We ought to make sure that there is a constant vigilance that freedom is presumed to belong to the citizen, unless there’s a compelling case for restricting it,” he said.
Brady suggested that the actual data supports a faster pace of easing, “because we’ve got both a rapidly falling level of COVID infection, and following on from that, rapid falls in hospital admissions and in deaths from COVID.”
The case for a quicker exit from lockdown was further boosted by the “great success” of the rapid vaccine rollout, he said, which “should reduce the risk of mortality from COVID by about 90 percent.”
In an article published on Feb. 22, hours after the official roadmap out of lockdown was published, Brady wrote that the British government should never again be allowed to impose similar restrictions on civil rights.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “Our freedoms have been taken away and they should be restored as quickly as can safely be done.”
“This massive lurch towards state power must be reversed and it must never happen again.”
Reporting by Jane Werrell of NTD.