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

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
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.

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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.

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Read more: NHS 111 service is giving out-of-date coronavirus advice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

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