Tory Backlash Against Ministers 'Making Stuff Up On The Hoof' After Latest U-Turn

Following the U-turn on face masks in schools, one MP said of Gavin Williamson: "Who thinks he should stay? I’ve never met them.”

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Tory MPs are in open revolt after the government’s latest U-turn on coronavirus policy, with ministers being urged to “get a grip” of what has become an “absolute sh*t show”.

It comes after ministers led by education secretary Gavin Williamson changed guidance to make secondary pupils and staff wear face masks in schools in locked down areas of England.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman broke ranks to brand the situation an “absolute disgrace”, while vice chair of the 1922 committee of backbenchers, Charles Walker, said the government was “making stuff up on the hoof”.

One Tory MP told HuffPost UK many people in the party were “pissed off” about “another shit show” following a string of U-turns during the pandemic.

And another called for Williamson to be sacked: “Who thinks he should stay? I’ve never met them.”

The MPs voiced concerns that the government was sending the wrong message as children prepare to go back to school from next week.

One said: “I understand the decision but I think we have to start making people think more realistically about the risks and accept that you are going to have to live with this thing and for kids in particular, for young people, it’s not that much of a risk.”

They added: “There is a lack of confidence in the overall strategy within government and as a result we are making weird decisions.”

Merriman said he wanted to see the “firm smack of government”.

Prime minister Boris Johnson visits The Discovery School in West Malling, England, in July
Prime minister Boris Johnson visits The Discovery School in West Malling, England, in July

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We need to send a message out that schools are a safe setting.

“We know that the risks are so low, you’re sadly more likely to see your child lose their life through getting to school than actually the Covid pandemic.

“I just absolutely fundamentally feel that young people just need to be able to get on with their education free of any encumbrance.

“Anything that sends a message out that it’s not safe in the corridor means that it can’t be safe in the classroom and we’re on a slippery slope.”

He added: “I feel it’s an absolute disgrace and I really feel the government needs to get a grip and just be certain, get on with it and inspire confidence rather than just completely changing its mind.”

Walker meanwhile told Times Radio he was “disappointed”.

“What we are in now are the biggest of policy issues, restricting people’s liberties and freedoms with very little science attached to it. [...] Let’s debate these issues on the floor of the House of Commons.

“We cannot continue to have government by edict. This has been going on for six months.”

Walker added: “The government just cannot make this stuff up now on the hoof [...] – saying one thing on Monday, changing its mind on Tuesday, something different presented on Wednesday. It’s just not acceptable.”


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