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Nicola Sturgeon believes in ‘perpetual Covid lockdowns’, claims Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of wanting to keep Scotland in 'perpetual lockdown' by Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Nicola Sturgeon believes in “constant, perpetual lockdowns” to fight Covid, Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed in a row with the SNP at Westminster.

The Conservative made the provocative comment on Scotland’s approach to tackling the virus during a Commons debate on Thursday.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart had begged the House of Commons Leader to allow proxy voting and reintroduce a virtual Parliament for politicians unable to attend in person.

It comes amid estimates one in 15 people in England currently have Covid – with Labour leader Keir Starmer among those self-isolating.

But Mr Rees-Mogg accused his SNP rival of wanting to “sit at home” as he denied the request for more a more flexible approach.

The Conservative minister accused Ms Sturgeon’s party of not trusting Scots to “make decisions for themselves”.

The SNP have decided to take a very different route. They don’t believe in trusting people.”

– Jacob Rees-Mogg

He claimed Scottish Government measures had failed to control the virus as he bizarrely compared the First Minister to Japanese Emperor Hirohito at the end of the Second World War.

Responding to Mr Wishart, he said: “I am sorry that the honourable gentleman doesn’t like doing his job, that he wishes to enjoy himself sitting at home.

“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 herself has accepted did not go as well as anticipated, which sounds slightly like the comments of the Japanese Emperor at the end of the last war.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

“We should trust people, we should continue to trust people. People like the honourable gentlemen should not be afraid to do the work that they have to do.”

Mr Wishart pointed out that the Scottish Parliament was able to sit virtually on Wednesday for Ms Sturgeon’s Covid briefing.

At the time he claimed MPs were being forced to return to a “19th Century super spreading” Westminster as he criticised a lack of social distancing measures.

It came as Prime Minister’s Questions resumed following the Christmas break.

‘Bring back the hybrid Parliament’

On Thursday morning, Mr Wishart said: “Next week we’ll find out the true consequence of this and find out how many people were actually infected.

“Bring back the hybrid Parliament and proxy voting, for the sake of democracy, for the sake of keeping everybody safe and secure.”

A cross-party group of MPs have repeatedly urged Westminster bosses to reintroduce proxy voting.

SNP MP Amy Callaghan was forced to miss a key vote last year while she was ill following surgery.

Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg

She said: “We saw last year that the Westminster Parliament was capable of operating with hybrid participation and proxy voting to keep physical numbers down on the estate, preventing MPs becoming super spreaders and posing a risk to their constituents.”

Ms Sturgeon meanwhile confirmed self-isolation rules and testing requirements in Scotland would be eased.

Scots who have Covid can now quarantine for just seven days if they test negative for the virus twice.

Members of the public will no longer will be forced to take a PCR test to prove they have the bug – with lateral flow kits deemed acceptable.

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