A Conservative MP has said not every coronavirus death is a tragedy as he appealed for older people to be given freedom from Boris Johnson’s restrictions.
Sir Charles Walker, one of numerous Tory lockdown sceptics who spoke out against Johnson’s three-tier plan in a House of Commons debate on Tuesday, accused the government of talking about elderly people “as if they’re not in the room”.
Calling for older people to be included in discussions about COVID-19 restrictions, Broxbourne MP Walker said: “We could not protect every old person. But we could have provided them with the information to make informed choices about their own safety because funnily enough, you don’t get old by being that stupid. There’s a degree of wisdom in older people.”
Walker said 615,000 Britons die every year and that he gets “distressed” when leaders describe every COVID death as a tragedy.
Watch: Boris Johnson fends off questions from his party over tier system
He was speaking shortly before the government announced there had been a further 603 coronavirus deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 59,051.
Walker told MPs: “A tragedy is when a child dies. A tragedy is when some young woman or young man dies, or when you are cut down in your middle years. But when we say it is a tragedy when someone at 80 or 90 has met their mortality, we diminish that life so well lived.”
He said the “tragedies” involve older people unable to see their grandchildren due to the government’s restrictions.
“That tragedy is that in their final days and months, they’ve been denied the touch of the people that they love. We have kept families apart for the good of an old person that is desperate to see their child, is desperate to be cared for by their daughter in their final months and weeks.”
Since lockdown restrictions were imposed in March, people have always been allowed to provide care.
Walker concluded: “My plea to this place is please can we involve older people in this discussion, because they love their children and grandchildren and want to see them prosper, they want to see them have the same chances and opportunities that they had in their life.”
What tier are you in?
A vote on the three-tier restrictions was set to take place on Tuesday evening. They will replace the national lockdown when it comes to an end on Wednesday.
With Labour MPs told to abstain on the vote, it was expected to pass the Commons due to the size of Johnson’s Conservative majority in Parliament.
Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work