A Tory MP has vowed to protest against coronavirus lockdown restrictions by carrying around a pint of milk, which he said would be of “symbolic importance” to him.
The defeat came after Boris Johnson had ordered his MPs to support the extension, but dozens opted to vote against it on Thursday.
Prior to the vote, Sir Walker made a bizarre pledge to “protest about the price of milk” and told the Commons he would spend the next few days walking around London “with a pint of milk on my person because that pint will represent my protest”.
He said: “As sure as eggs are eggs, we will be back here in six months at the end of September being asked to renew this legislation again. It is inevitable and anyone who thinks it’s not inevitable is deluding themselves.
“But this afternoon, I’m not here to talk about eggs, I want to talk about milk because in the remaining days of this lockdown, I am going to allow myself an act of defiance, my own protest that others may join me in. I am going to protest about the price of milk.
“Now I’m not sure whether I think the price is too high or the price is too low, I shall come to that decision later. But for the next few days I am going to walk around London with a pint of milk on my person because that pint will represent my protest.
“And there may be others who will choose too to walk around London with a pint of milk on their person as well and perhaps as we walk past each other on the street our eyes might meet, we might even stop for a chat, but I was thinking to myself and I will continue to think for myself, what will their pint of milk represent, what will their protest be?
“Perhaps they will be protesting the roaring back of a mental health demon brought on by lockdown, perhaps they’ll be protesting a renewed battle with anorexia, with depression, with anxiety, with addiction. Perhaps with their pint of milk they will be protesting the lack of agency in their life, not being able to make a meaningful decision.
“Maybe a loss of career, or job, or business, maybe they will be protesting this country’s slide into authoritarianism or perhaps they’ll be protesting the fact that we allow unelected officials to have lecterns at Number 10 to lecture us how to live our lives.”
He continued his speech in this vein, adding that the pint “shall remind me that the act of protest is a freedom, a freedom, not a right and unless you cherish freedoms every day, unless you fight for freedoms every day, they end up being taken away from you”.
Following his speech, Sir Walker appeared for an interview with Channel 4 News holding a pint of milk and told presenter Cathy Newman he had “projected a symbolism” on the pint because protests were “virtually made illegal for the past year”.
It comes as the health secretary Matt Hancock failed to guarantee that the powers to implement lockdown restrictions, described by Tory MPs as “draconian”, would be scrapped by October.
Mr Hancock said he “cannot answer” whether the government will be “retiring” the emergency measures within the Coronavirus Act 2020 in October or whether it will be rolled on.
He told the Commons: “There are parts of this Act that have allowed us to do good things that everybody would like to see like that, and so when we do come to retire this Act, which we must within one year and preferably within six months, we will need to make sure that we can continue to do that sort of thing and make sure that nurses can be enrolled as easily as possible into the NHS.
“But I cannot answer whether we will be retiring it in six months. My preference would be yes, but given the last year, I think a prediction would be hasty.”
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