BBC’s Maitlis has lockdown sceptic admit he ‘got that wrong’ over second Covid wave

Coronavirus sceptic admits he was 'wrong' about second wave

General Secretary of the Free Speech Union Toby Young said he “got that wrong” when suggesting that COVID-19 social distancing measures were not working. He also said the measures were causing enormous damage. On BBC Newsnight, presenter Emily Maitlis said: “I have your article from June 25 and you say the second spike has refused to materialise, the virus has all but disappeared and then you say it’s becoming clear that the social distancing rules are unnecessary and then you accuse the chief scientists of overplaying it so it doesn’t hurt their reputation.

“It’s not denying Covid per se but it seems to be ignoring that it is actually amongst us.”

Mr Young replied: “I think it is certainly a constantly evolving virus and it’s quite hard to get an accurate picture of it.”

Ms Maitlis interjected: “You say it’s constantly evolving but would you take any of it back?

“Is there not a moment of contrition from you that you wrote this stuff down and published it?”

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Mr Young continued: “Hands up, I got that wrong but let’s not forget that was during the summer when social distancing measures, curfews were doing enormous damage to the hospitality industry and have continued to do a lot of damage.

“The lockdown sceptics case is that the lockdowns across the world have caused more harm than they’ve prevented.”

The admission comes as MPs will return to Westminster to vote on regulations enforcing England’s national lockdown as the stringent restrictions entered into force overnight amid spiralling coronavirus cases.

The Commons has been recalled from its Christmas recess for the second time, to debate and retrospectively vote on the measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday.

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Boris Johnson will update MPs on the new controls – which include the closure of schools to most pupils and a return to the stay at home order – before a vote due in the evening.

The measures are expected to pass with ease, with Labour set to support the motion.

The vote comes after the World Health Organisation said it would not recommend withholding the second dose of the vaccine for up to 12 weeks as the UK is, instead suggesting the interval should be between three and four weeks.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will outline a package of support for young people, after students in England were told this year’s GCSE and A-level exams would be scrapped.


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The regulations enforcing a national lockdown in England came into effect at 00.01 on Wednesday, as new figures suggested one in 50 people had coronavirus last week.

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggested 1.1 million people in private households in England had Covid-19 between December 27 and January 2.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said people must take the ‘stay at home’ rules seriously as he warned that the country faced a “really serious emergency”.

His comments came as the number of daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK topped 60,000 for the first time, while a further 830 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.

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