Conservative backbencher Sir Desmond Swayne, known for being sceptical of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact and the government’s measures to combat it, has once again had one of his statistical claims rebuked by journalists.

Mr Swayne, who was one of the Tory MPs to vote against new Covid measures in the Commons on Tuesday, aired unusual remarks about UK road deaths as part of his contribution to the debate in the chamber.

The New Forest West MP told colleagues: “In the end, it comes down to a matter of opinion - a matter of our prejudice - and we are typically capable of organising our lives and making those decisions for ourselves.

“We decide what our risk appetite is, and what we’re prepared to encounter, and what we’re prepared to not – not withstanding the carnage on our roads certainly killing more people than Covid at the moment, some of us still decide to drive. It’s a matter of opinion.”

Yet the latest annual statistics on reported road casualties, published by the government in September, paint a different picture to the one offered up by Mr Swayne.

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An estimated 1,460 road deaths were reported in Great Britain in 2020, and that figure includes the four months when we were in lockdown – April, May, June and November.

Last year’s stat is 17 per cent lower than the one from 2019, and it’s a decrease of more than 20 per cent when looking at the percentage change from 2010.

Meanwhile Covid-19 was mentioned on 69,771 death certificates in England and Wales up to 4 December, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

To put it another way, more than 4,000 people died within 28 days of a positive test (whether you count it by the day the deaths occurred or when they were reported) in the month of November alone.

Again, that’s a higher figure than those who tragically lost their lives last year on the road.

After the inaccuracy was pointed out by Byline Times reporter Adam Bienkov on Twitter, people soon criticised the Tory MP’s comments:

It isn’t the first time Mr Swayne has been challenged on the legitimacy of his remarks, after he allegedly said in a video – filmed in November and published by Sky News in January – that the UK was “bouncing round at the typical level of deaths for the time of year”.

But we weren’t. ONS data revealed that deaths were 14 per cent above the five-year average at the time of him making those comments.

Indy100 has reached out to Mr Swayne’s parliamentary office for comment.

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