Close schools, work from home, isolate: Rory Stewart’s response to the pandemic goes viral a year later

·2-min read
<p>Former Tory MP Rory Stewart speaking to the media </p> (PA)

Former Tory MP Rory Stewart speaking to the media


A video in which former Conservative leadership candidate Rory Stewart revealed how he would tackle the pandemic has gone viral.

In the clip, which was recorded at the beginning of the crisis, Mr Stewart outlined policies that would have reduced the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Stewart recommended closing schools and offices to fight against the virus, before these same rules were announced by the Government.

The video has been viewed 1.5 million times by Twitter users and retweeted by more than a thousand accounts.

In the video interview with news website JOE, Mr Stewart said: “We’re going to shut schools. The Government doesn’t want to shut schools but we are going to shut schools and the Easter holiday is coming so why wait two weeks - why not shut them now?

“Number two, gatherings need to stop. Number three, people need to start self-isolating. They need to start working from home.

“This is literally the most serious epidemic that we have faced since the end of the First World War and ultimately you can use the police to enforce that and you can call in the military to support in this kind of emergency.”

Mr Stewart ran against Boris Johnson in 2019. Some social media users speculated that fewer lives would have been lost if he had won the leadership race.

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“If we’re doing banal thought experiments on people who were never going to be Prime Minister, I’m personally much more interested in the trajectory Britain would be on today if Rory Stewart had won the Tory leadership race,” one said.

Another added: “Rory Stewart is living proof that the best career move for a Tory politician is not to be one.”

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose modelling was instrumental in persuading the Government to bring in the first lockdown, has suggested that between 20,000 and 30,000 lives could have been saved if the UK had locked down a week earlier.

Giving evidence to MPs on Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s former top aide Dominic Cummings said that the Government’s pandemic response was very much a case of “lions led by donkeys.”

In a series of astonishing admissions, he added: “In any sensible, rational government it is completely crazy that I should have been in such a senior position. I’m not smart. I’ve not built big things in the world.

“The leadership, people like me and the prime minister and the secretary of state for health, we let down the people on the front line.”

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