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No10 slaps down Tory MP Joy Morrissey over criticism of Chris Whitty


‘Chris Whitty is a hugely respected public servant’: Downing Street leaps to expert’s defence and slaps down Tory MP Joy Morrissey after she accused him of treating UK like a ‘public health socialist state’

  • Tory MP Joy Morrissey lashed out at Chris Whitty over advice to limit socialising
  • She suggested Prof Whitty was acting as if UK is a ‘public health socialist state’
  • She said Prof Whitty should ‘defer’ to what the PM and MPs decide on pandemic
  • Comments sparked a furious political backlash as critics demanded an apology 










Downing Street has rebuked a Tory MP who lashed out at Professor Chris Whitty after he advised people to limit socialising in the run up to Christmas.  

Joy Morrissey said on Twitter that England’s Chief Medical Officer should ‘defer’ to what MPs and Boris Johnson decide when it comes to slowing the spread of Omicron. 

Ms Morrissey, who is a Government parliamentary private secretary (PPS), the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder, suggested Prof Whitty was behaving like the UK is a ‘public health socialist state’. 

Her comments prompted a ferocious backlash as Labour demanded an apology while her own Tory colleagues said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ to attack civil servants. 

Ms Morrissey deleted the tweet but later was accused of ‘doubling down’ as she tweeted she is ‘increasingly concerned at public health pronouncements made in the media that already seem to exceed or contradict decisions made by our elected representatives’.

Number 10 defended Prof Whitty as it said he is a ‘hugely respected and trusted public servant who provides independent, evidence-based advice’.  

Joy Morrissey said on Twitter that England's Chief Medical Officer should 'defer' to what MPs and Boris Johnson decide when it comes to slowing the spread of Omicron

Joy Morrissey said on Twitter that England’s Chief Medical Officer should ‘defer’ to what MPs and Boris Johnson decide when it comes to slowing the spread of Omicron

Ms Morrissey, who is a Government parliamentary private secretary (PPS), the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder, suggested Prof Whitty was behaving like the UK is a 'public health socialist state'

Ms Morrissey, who is a Government parliamentary private secretary (PPS), the lowest rung on the ministerial ladder, suggested Prof Whitty was behaving like the UK is a ‘public health socialist state’

Prof Whitty said at a Downing Street press conference last night that people should limit and prioritise social contact amid a growing wave of coronavirus infections

Prof Whitty said at a Downing Street press conference last night that people should limit and prioritise social contact amid a growing wave of coronavirus infections

Prof Whitty said at a Downing Street press conference last night that people should limit and prioritise social contact in the coming days amid a growing wave of coronavirus infections. 

His comments went beyond what Mr Johnson said, with the Prime Minister advising the nation to be cautious over the festive period. 

Responding to a tweet about Prof Whitty’s call to reduce social interactions, Ms Morrissey said: ‘Perhaps the unelected covid public health spokesperson should defer to what our ELECTED Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister have decided.

‘I know it’s difficult to remember but that’s how democracy works. This is not a public health socialist state.’  

Downing Street dismissed the claim that Prof Whitty was acting as if Britain is a ‘public health socialist state’.

Asked if Mr Johnson agreed with the comment, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘No. Professor Whitty is a hugely respected and trusted public servant who provides independent, evidence-based advice.

‘I think he himself has been clear that he provides advice and it is rightly for ministers and elected politicians to decide.

‘He has been a hugely trusted and valued part of our pandemic response and continues to be so.’

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting described Ms Morrissey’s comments as ‘outrageous’ as he said the Tory MP should apologise.           

Tory former Cabinet minister Julian Smith appeared to criticise his Conservative colleague as he said ‘personal attacks by any politician’ on members of the civil service are ‘completely unacceptable’.   

Ms Morrissey deleted her original tweet but sent another this afternoon which stated: ‘I am increasingly concerned at public health pronouncements made in the media that already seem to exceed or contradict decisions made by our elected representatives.

Ms Morrissey deleted her initial tweet but later said she is 'increasingly concerned at public health pronouncements made in the media that already seem to exceed or contradict decisions made by our elected representatives'

Ms Morrissey deleted her initial tweet but later said she is ‘increasingly concerned at public health pronouncements made in the media that already seem to exceed or contradict decisions made by our elected representatives’

‘Expert advice is important but decisions must be made by those we elect, who are democratically accountable.’ 

Mr Streeting accused Ms Morrissey of ‘doubling down’ on her earlier post as he said: ‘The Conservative Party has spiralled into disarray and Boris Johnson is too weak to act.’  

Ms Morrissey is a PPS at the Ministry of Justice and Labour is now calling on Justice Secretary Dominic Raab to tell her to apologise or face the sack.     

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Steve Reed said: ‘It is vital, especially during this pandemic, that our leading scientists have the freedom to give public health advice to the public and to offer their expertise without fear of reprisal.

‘As the Omicron variant spreads rapidly through Britain, there must not be any sign of the Government censoring or intimidating our leading scientific experts.’

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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