Sir David Lidington: Government should 'be more open' with public on lockdown

27 September 2020, 11:04 | Updated: 27 September 2020, 13:44

By Joe Cook

Sir David Lidington has called on the Government to be more open with the public about coronavirus restrictions and not be “led by fear”, as the country faces a second wave of the pandemic.

Sir David, who was Theresa May’s de facto deputy, told Swarbrick on Sunday that he supported moves from Conservative MPs to force Boris Johnson to bring a vote on any new Covid-19 rules before they come in.

“When the PM made his announcement last week he talked about being open with Parliament and with the public, about the arguments that they were grappling with and about the evidence on which they were making their decisions,” Sir David said.

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“What I would really like to see them do, is be more open about this, because I think there is tremendous stock of public goodwill, but I think that is being tested.”

He added: “I think it was understandable in the early days that the government had to take the power to act quickly.

“But I think the principle that should apply is that while the government should retain a reserve power to act rapidly, when needs change and new evidence comes in, they should wherever possible go to Parliament first.”

Sir David told LBC he believed giving the power to Parliament to vote through restrictions would increase public confidence in the government and give MP’s who vote through restrictions “some skin in defending those”.

“Right at the beginning of this crisis there was huge public solidarity, like nothing I had ever seen before in my lifetime, and to a much greater extent than I and many others had expected, people complied. That is fraying now, it is very obvious."

Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, told Tom that Labour also want greater parliamentary scrutiny.

"I think what we need is better scrutiny of the governments decision making... We need more transparency, we need to be able to understand why decisions are being made, at the time they are being made.

"We need to be able to discuss those in parliament and have votes on important issues," Ms Stevens added.

Sir David stressed: "Before Covid, every day, every year, we have lived our lives on the basis that we accept a degree of risk and manage risk in everything we do."

“I think that we should not be led by fear, we should be led by a sensible appreciation of the risks."

He added: "I think the longer this goes on... it may be that we are going to have live with this virus for many months, possibly for a year or longer."