Sturgeon compared to Emperor Hirohito as Rees-Mogg tears into Scottish lockdown rules

Covid-19: 1 in 20 cases in Scotland at end of December says Sturgeon

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The First Minister has responded to the Omicron variant of Covid by reimposing restrictions in Scotland, with Scottish Parliament meetings carried out virtually from December. Now, Jacob Rees-Mogg has skewered Ms Sturgeon when he was asked about whether Westminster will start meeting virtually.

In a fiery exchange with Pete Wishart over his demands for a return to virtual sittings at the House of Commons, Mr Rees-Mogg took aim at the First Minister.

Mr Wishart had asked Mr Rees-Mogg to back a return to virtual Commons meetings, and estimated 50 of Westminster’s 650 MPs would be isolating because of Covid.

The SNP Perth and North Perthshire MP said: “With one simple measure he could resolve on this – turn it back on bring back the hybrid parliament and proxy voting for the sake of democracy.

“Turn it back on for the sake of keeping everybody in this estate safe and secure.”

Mr Rees-Mogg said he was sorry Mr Wishart enjoyed “sitting at home” instead of doing his job in the Commons and refused the appeal.

In scathing remarks against the First Minister’s approach to Covid restrictions in Holyrood, the Commons leader said: “The SNP have decided to take a very different route. They don’t believe in trusting people to make decisions for themselves.

“They believe in constant, perpetual lockdown which, as I understand it, the leader of the SNP has herself accepted did not go as well as anticipated.

“Which sound slightly like the comments of the Japanese Emperor at the end of the last war, that it has not been success what they have done in Scotland.

“What we have done in the rest of the United Kingdom, in England, has worked better by trusting people. We should trust people we should continue to trust people.”

On August 15 1945, Emperor Hirohito spoke to Japan for the first time and announced the country’s surrender in World War 2.

In his very first radio broadcast, the Japanese leader confessed the US “has begun to employ a most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives”.

Hirohito admitted in the broadcast that “the Japanese race will be destroyed if the war continues”.

On Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon relaxed Scotland’s self-isolation rules and promised to rethink her Covid strategy after admitting the country’s restrictions were not as effective as planned.

While she said Scotland will not “let it rip” by lifting all measures, the First Minister admitted using restrictions was becoming “less tolerable”, inflicting “more harm” and was “perhaps less effective” thanks to Omicron’s increased transmissibility.

The First Minister said existing restrictions would remain in place until at least January 17, and said she will shortly unveil a blueprint for Scotland to live with the virus in the long term that would be “more proportionate and sustainable and less restrictive”.

Ms Sturgeon also told MSPs that the virus was “more widespread now than at any point in the pandemic so far”, which she argued had “extremely serious implications” for the NHS and other key services.

It comes as Office for National Statistic data showed that the proportion of Scots with Covid doubled from one in 40 to one in 20 in the final week of 2021.

Scotland’s figures were in contrast to one in 15 in England, with only Plan B restrictions in place.

The UK recorded 178,250 cases and 229 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test on Friday.

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