BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis Swipes At “Misleading” COVID-19 Language In Powerful Speech: “This Is Much Harder If You’re Poor”

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BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has taken a swipe at what she called “trite and misleading” language from the UK government when discussing COVID-19.

“You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the Prime Minister’s colleagues will tell us,” said Maitlis, referring to comments made by members of the government while PM Boris Johnson is battling the illness in hospital.

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Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had described Johnson as a “fighter” who “will pull through” in a Downing Street presser.

Maitlis also took aim at suggestions that coronavirus is “the great leveler”, i.e. that everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same consequences.

“They tell us coronavirus is the ‘great leveler’, it’s not, it’s much, much harder if you’re poor…this is a myth which needs debunking,” she commented earlier in the program.

“Those who have been on the front line right now, bus drivers, shelf stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower paid members of our workforce. They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.

“Those who live in tower blocks and small flats will find the lockdown tougher. Those in manual jobs will be unable to work from home. This is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare, and it’s a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health,” Maitlis added.

Clips from the program have been widely shared on social media this morning, with people praising Maitlis for her frank and honest assessment of the situation. Tim Burgess, lead singer of The Charlatans, took to Twitter to post the clip:

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At the end of the program, Maitlis paid a touching tribute to those who have died from the virus.

“One of the hardest things in dealing in graphs and numbers, statistics, targets, flattening or rising curves, is the propensity to forget the names and lives behind the growing death toll. Tonight we want to remember some of those who died whilst doing their job,” said Maitlis

“They were not soldiers, they didn’t sign up to a career in which they pledged to give their lives, they would not see themselves as heroes, but as ordinary members of the public doing their work at a time where it demanded immense courage and kindness.”

Here’s that clip:

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