Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has said that it would be “outrageous” to cancel local and regional elections in May, saying the democratic process cannot be suspended because of the Chinese coronavirus.
Local elections across Great Britain are due to take place in May, and while a government minister said that it would take a “high bar” of conditions to suspend them, the position would remain “under review”.
“Safe and secure elections are the cornerstone of any democracy and parliament’s decision, as set out in primary legislation, is that these polls should go ahead in May,” said Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith on Wednesday, according to Sky News.
She added, though, that the government was “keeping this position under review. Any change would require very careful consideration, including by this House, and need to be based on robust evidence.
“There should be a high bar for any delay.”
May 2020’s local government and mayoral elections — including for the powerful position of Mayor of London — were already postponed in March 2020 for 12 months.
However, France’s Emmanuel Macron recommitted to preserving the “continuity of our democratic life”, and local elections were held in June 2020.
Coronavirus: London Mayoral Election Suspended For 12 Months https://t.co/giSwfMDA0R
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 13, 2020
This Spring, some 40 million people are expected to cast their ballots to elect the mayors of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and the West Midlands. In England, some 140 councils are expecting votes for councillors, while elections to determine the make-up of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are also going to take place.
Asked on his thoughts of the prospect of all those voters being denied, Mr Farage told talkRADIO’s Julia Harley-Brewer on Thursday that there would be no justification to cancel elections.
“This is outrageous. You cannot suspend the democratic process just because of COVID,” Mr Farage said, suggesting that if governments are worried about social distancing, then voting could be extended to two or three days.
“I really do think that suspending elections would be a very big mistake, but I suspect that it is going to happen,” he said.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage says it is "outrageous" to suggest local elections are delayed due to the pandemic: "You cannot suspend the democratic process just because of Covid."
— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) January 14, 2021
Mr Farage also expressed his concern for the costs of lockdown, not just economically, but socially. Speaking of the metaphorical “mailbags” of messages he has been receiving on his website, he mentioned a few of the kinds of people who are worried about the lockdown, including “elderly people living on their own” who are “giving up hope”, “people whose businesses are collapsing”, and those whose cancer operations had been cancelled.
“When you hear [England’s Chief Medical Offier] Chris Whitty and people like this saying, ‘Actually, into next winter, we may face lockdowns, mask-wearing,’ I just have this feeling that economically and socially, we are doing greater harm to the country than anybody in government actually realises. And I’m pretty fearful where this is going to take us,” Mr Farage said.
“We have to try and find some way of life continuing. I’m not convinced lockdowns work,” he concluded.
Lockdown ‘Removing Hope’ from Britons, ‘Nonsensical’ Interventions ‘Infantilising’ People, Says Senior Tory https://t.co/aan3IVfDtc
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 14, 2021