British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of introducing a “scaremongering propaganda campaign” to restrict social interaction, as MPs in his own party criticised new measures to combat the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
r Johnson faced a backbench revolt as the House of Commons considered the requirement for face coverings to be worn in shops and public transport in England, while all travellers going to Britain must take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.
Tory MPs also took exception to comments from the UK’s Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, who urged people not to socialise if they do not need to in the run-up to Christmas.
Former minister Christopher Chope labelled the regulations “oppressive, authoritarian and dictatorial” as he warned it would have an “adverse effect” on lives and livelihoods.
He argued ministers had produced “no evidence whatsoever” to show the impact of the regulations on protecting public health.
The Tory MP for Christchurch told the Commons: “These regulations are part of a scaremongering propaganda campaign on the part of the government, which is really designed to try to stop or restrict social interaction between social animals who happen to be living in the United Kingdom. That I think is potentially the most damaging aspect of these regulations before us today.
“They’re designed to suppress freedom of the individual and suppress social contact, and they’re doing that through unreasonable fear-mongering.”
Conservative former chief whip Mark Harper earlier pressed health minister Maggie Throup over the comments made by Dr Harries.
He said: “The prime minister was asked about this and made it very clear that was not the government’s position and that people should follow the advice… could she be clear that Dr Harries was only speaking for herself, she was not speaking for the government?”
Ms Throup replied: “As (he) said, that what the prime minister has said is that we (are) putting these measures in place, which I will talk more about, and I cannot speak for any other person who goes on the airwaves.”
But Conservative former minister Steve Baker said the government is “facing chaos” if ministers do not have a view on employees of departments taking their own positions.