Tory Lockdown Sceptic Predicts SAGE Scientists Will Push for Lockdown Extension Until Winter

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Protesters hold flags and banners during an anti-lockdown protest in Victoria Square on October 31, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The UK has seen a small but persistent protest movement decrying its measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, with many demonstrators alleging the virus …
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Lockdown sceptic Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker believes that July the 19th will not be the end of restrictions, saying that the government’s scientific advisors will be pushing for another extension and predicted that the longer into Summer that unlocking is delayed, the more likely it will roll straight into a winter lockdown.

Sir Charles, the vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench (non-governmental) Conservative MPs, made the remarks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that the full release of coronavirus restrictions — originally slated for June 21st — would be pushed back by four weeks to July 19th, in response to rising cases contributed to the Indian variant of the Chinese virus.

The MP for Broxbourne, who said he would not be voting for the extension to lockdown, said he was “extremely pessimistic” on the likelihood of the government taking the country out of restrictions by the new date. Walker based his belief on the fact that while he thought it was in Prime Minister Johnson’s “instinct” to restore Britons’ freedoms, “it’s clearly not the instinct of scientists advising him” — suggesting the prime minister is too strongly swayed by the advisors belonging to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE).

“I find it impossible to believe that Sir Mark Walport, Professor Susan Michie of SAGE will be arguing in favour of ending lockdown in four weeks’ time,” Sir Charles told Channel 4’s Cathy Newman on Monday.

Professor Michie, who both media on the centre-right and far-left claim is a communist, recently said that restrictions such as social distancing and wearing masks should continue “forever”.

Walker implied that SAGE scientists were also briefing the media as well as the government, feeding a pro-lockdown narrative: “They [Walport and Michie] will obviously not be arguing in favour of ending lockdown. They’re on SAGE; they spend a lot of time speaking to journalists, as well. But it’s clear to me in the balance of probability this lockdown will go on through the Summer and tighten up in the Autumn and Winter.”

“[SAGE] both advise the prime minister but also the same time advise Channel 4, the BBC, and ITV, all the newspapers and the [BBC’s] Radio 4 Today programme.

“I suspect over the next four weeks, you’ll see a concerted effort from SAGE scientists led by Sir Mark Walport and others to argue that July the 19th is not the time to open up. If you can’t open up in the middle of Summer, it is very unlikely that as we enter the ‘flu season in the Autumn that we’ll be opening up then. So I’m very pessimistic,” Sir Charles said.

The MP gave the stark warning: “Even if we do unlock for a short time at the backend of Summer, I suspect we’ll be in much harder lockdowns come the Autumn.”

In January, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty suggested that there could be new restrictions in Winter 2021/22, even if the vaccination programme is successful, “because winter will benefit the virus”.

After the prime minister’s announcement, senior minister Michael Gove attempted to assure the public that it would take an “unprecedented and remarkable alteration in the progress of the disease” for the lifting of lockdown next month to be delayed again.


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