Archbishop of Canterbury: UK Should Scrap Boris Johnson’s Centralised Approach to the China Virus

CANTERBURY, ENGLAND - MARCH 21: The Most Reverend Justin Welby, strikes three times on the West Door of Canterbury Cathedral with his pastoral staff prior to his enthronement service to become Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral on March 21, 2013 in Canterbury, England. The newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury …
Chris Ison - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The most senior cleric in the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, criticised Boris Johnson’s centralised approach to the China virus, calling for a return to local control rather than the national government “determining the daily details of our lives”.

Archbishop Welby denounced the national imposition of the so-called ‘Rule of Six’ which prohibits people — in a set of selective instances that does not include Black Lives Matter and other protests — from gathering in groups of more than six.

Writing in The Telegraph, the highest-ranking bishop in the Church of England said that living with the Wuhan-born virus “will only be sustainable — or even endurable” if the United Kingdom rejects notions of centralised control and return to the long-held British principle of “only do centrally what must be done centrally”.

Welby argued that this principle is in the “DNA” of the UK and that the Church of England, through its local parishes, has operated under this model for centuries.

“We are not immune to the temptation to pull more decisions into the centre, to feel that ‘something is being done’. But it is a temptation that should be resisted. Often that ‘something’ might not be as effective as what could be done locally,” Welby wrote.

“When it comes to Covid-19, the importance of local networks and communities becomes even greater. Scotland and Wales have shown that local public health is the best qualified to deal with local outbreaks,” he added.

He said that few had seen the “sheer power” of the state, as has been witnessed in the British government’s impositions on the daily life of Britons.

A source close to the Archbishop also told the British broadsheet that Welby is “deeply concerned about and the impact of the ‘Rule of Six’ on the vulnerable, the needy, the poor and the elderly”.

The source added that Welby fears that atomisation of British society will lead to a breakdown of the core Christian Tennent of “love thy neighbour”.

Following the imposition of the ‘Rule of Six’, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Policing minister Kit Malthouse encouraged the British public to snitch on their neighbours, should they violate the laws.

Ms Patel said on Tuesday that if she saw her own neighbours supposedly breaching the limit on gatherings, “then, quite frankly, I would call the police”.

Reacting to the Home Secretary’s statement, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “Have we become like East Germany where children were encouraged to report on their parents?”

Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Jonathan Sumption also compared Boris Johnson’s nominally Conservative government regulations to the former Communist state. He said: “The ban on socialising in groups of more than six is unenforceable except in a Stasi-style surveillance state with a poisonous network of informers.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.