'Boris Johnson isn't doing enough': Ex-Tory minister urges cities to act now on coronavirus

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read
Rory Stewart, independent candidate for Mayor of London in the upcoming 2020 election, speaks to AFP during a campaigning event in Highgate, north London on February 25, 2020. - Two decades ago, Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan, staying with locals along the way. Now he is deploying the same approach to his bid to become mayor of London. (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ALICE RITCHIE (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Rory Stewart has criticised the government's handling of the coronavirus. ((Getty)

A former Conservative minister has hit out at the Government’s handling of the coronavirus, saying “the time to act is now”.

Former prisons minister Rory Stewart, who is standing to be London mayor, said Boris Johnson’s administration was “unfortunately not acting”, and called on more to be done to stop the spread of Covid-19 in cities – including banning all large gatherings.

See latest coronavirus news and updates

In a Facebook video, Stewart advised current London mayor Sadiq Khan to “get on top of coronavirus”.

“It requires immediate action today,” Stewart said. “The central government is unfortunately not acting, therefore the mayor of London needs to step into this space.

“We need to use every means at our disposal to communicate to the public both in terms of the threat and making sure that everybody works from home if they can, that meetings are avoided and gatherings are cancelled.”

He added: “We can do this, we can contain this disease for our sake and for the sake of the rest of the world. But the time to act is now.”

Stewart, who stood to be Tory leader alongside Johnson in 2019, also called for more urgent measures be taken after health minister Nadine Dorries revealed she had coronavirus.

He tweeted: "Actions proposed for two weeks time – including banning large gatherings – must be implemented today. We are taking far too much risk.

"The House of Commons should cease to meet in person. The budget should be announced online. MPs are at high risk through v frequent contacts and large gatherings.

Read more: Italians face life under coronavirus lockdown

“They are in danger of infecting each other in the chamber, and then going on to infect others. Time for Action. Now."

A woman walks past a Coronavirus public information campaign poster in London, which focuses on hand washing. Five coronavirus victims have died and 319 cases have tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A woman walks past a coronavirus public information campaign poster in London. (PA)

Stewart was this week described as “irresponsible” for saying Britain should close its schools to stop coronavirus spreading.

Read more: NHS 111 service is giving out-of-date coronavirus advice

Dr Clare Gerada, a former chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is irresponsible to be second-guessing expert advice.”

Yahoo News UK has reached out to the Royal College of GPs for further comments on Stewart’s latest statement.

Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK