Analysis Breaking

Johnson preparing to seize autocratic powers as fears grow govt under-reporting COVID-19 infections

Tory PM planning to exploit coronavirus fears

Boris Johnson is planning emergency legislation to grant himself sweeping powers in response to the coronavirus outbreak. However, the government has said that these powers will not come into force until the end of March – and claims that the spread of the disease will not become serious enough to require them until April at the earliest.

However, fears are growing that the government is under-reporting the scale of infections. The official figures say that 39 people are infected in the UK – but anecdotal reports of confirmed infections in schools and other locations appear to suggest a significantly more serious scale, if true. Such a scale would certainly be more in keeping with what has been seen in Italy and other so-called ‘hotspots’ and the confirmed ‘community transmissions’ in the US.

Such under-reporting is not without historical precedent. The 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic, which killed as many as 100 million people globally, was named as such only because Spain was the only European country reporting its death toll accurately.

A draft of the powers Johnson intends to award to himself are not expected to be published for several days. However, they are believed to be on a par with those used by the Chinese government. There has been no indication that there will be any extra provision for zero-hours or other vulnerable workers forced into quarantine, nor any measures to force employers to continue to pay affected workers.

Whether the legislation will include an in-built expiry date for those powers remains to be seen.

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7 comments

  1. Johnson has already shown that he has a propensity for attempting to abuse his powers to avoid scrutiny.

    We should be concerned

  2. I’ve previously suggested MPs work with online videoconferencing from home for other reasons, ie:
    No need for the buildings, they can be museums.
    No need for travelling or extra housing allowances.
    Removes some of the London-centredness.
    Partner job sharing might be a possibility and an improvement – seeing MPs at home with their families would humanise them and give us some real insight into them and the job. You never know, our opinions of them might change – some even for the better.
    Remember Robert Kelly’s kids gatecrashing his skype interview?
    Who didn’t go “Aww” at that? šŸ™‚
    We all have families and can see who’s genuine and who’s faking it in that situation.
    Without the grandstanding and posturing for the cameras in that ridiculously chocolate-box Victorian monstrosity of a HoC building we might choose better.
    COVID-19 might force us to try it on for size.

    1. There is still some hope, projections predict that he will be 2 seats short of being able to form a coalition.

  3. I think Johnson has been planning on seizing autocratic powers virus or not.We truly are entering a new world of the unleashed power of the establishment with a twin movment to take the Labour party under establishment control as well.

  4. Not surprising really considering his track record , proroguing Parliament no problem , so awarding himself dictatorial powers on the back of some excuse is easy rather than enabling and funding the NHS to better cope .

    Still the Nation voted for this … get Brexit done yess , feels soooo good for the Daily Hate readership , I can just see them strutting their righteous stuff , the Dads Army brigade out on the street patrolling the curfews and woe betide anyone coughing or sneezing , “they don’t like it up em Capitan Bozo they don’t like it up em “

    1. “Still the Nation voted for this …”

      … well a fair proportion did : mostly comprised of those who swallow the Sun/Mail propaganda and bellyache about ‘taking control’ as it’s prised from their grasp.

      This is the least of the problems in this sphere: the Tories have a programme that looks to centralising more and more power.

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