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Tory MP 'appalled' by how easily Brits allowed their religious freedoms to be 'dispensed with' during pandemic

by Will Maule
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Conservative MP Desmond Swayne has said he is "appalled" at the ease with which the British people have allowed their religious freedoms to be "dispensed with" during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

In a speech in parliament yesterday, Swayne said that government-imposed restrictions continue to impede on a number individual freedoms and expressed horror at the lack of meaningful protest from colleagues in the House or the public itself. 

"We have made the case against the regulations in this House and we have lost all the votes, and that is democracy," Swayne said. "However, liberal western democracy is more than rule by the majority. It certainly includes freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom to worship."

Swayne went on to assert that "one of the most worrying aspects of our response to the coronavirus has been the way people have simply shrugged as these freedoms have been dispensed with".

"The Government have armed themselves with all the coercive powers of the state to tell us whom we may meet, when we may meet them, where we may meet them and what we must wear," he added, noting that "freedom of protest has been dispensed with, as has freedom of worship". 

Swayne labelled the government a "totalitarian state" that "seeks to exceed even what has been proscribed and prescribed" with regards to the lockdown restrictions, picking up on the example of a nurse who was arrested for taking her mother out of a care home against lockdown rules. 

The MP lamented the fact that his colleagues, and indeed the British people, had remained relatively silent on the issue.

"As these enormities occurred, instead of the expected rising chorus of protest, on the contrary we are told by the pollsters that actually the British people thirst for even greater restraints on their liberty," he said. "I am appalled - absolutely appalled."

Swayne went on to say that the liberties we enjoy in this country "were bought at an extraordinarily high price" and urged more people to recognise the ease with which they have been taken away.

He concluded: "Now, as we move into the vaccinated sunny uplands of release and freedom, there is a danger that the state has learned a powerful lesson over the last few months- namely, that the British people do not worry too much about their liberties and that they can be dispensed with conveniently when need arises. I hope that this House will wake up to that danger and seek a remedy." 

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