A Tory MP has faced criticism for comments she made about Chris Whitty, suggesting he should “defer” to Boris Johnson’s judgement on Covid.

Joy Morrissey, who you might remember as the American-born MP who campaigned for every household in the UK to get a photo of the Queen, sparked controversy after she posted a tweet – which she has since deleted – criticising the chief medical officer for offering his views on Covid.

She wrote: “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.”

It comes after, at a Downing Street press briefing yesterday, Whitty suggested people prioritise certain social gatherings over other ones so as not to risk falling ill in the days before Christmas. This appeared to be a step further than Johnson and his government who said people need to “think carefully” about the events they attend.

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“I really think people should be prioritising those things - and only those things - that really matter to them,” Whitty said. “Because otherwise the risk of someone getting infected at something that doesn’t really matter to them and then not being able to do the things that do matter to them obviously goes up.”

Johnson added: “We’re not cancelling events. We’re not closing hospitality. We’re not cancelling people’s parties or their ability to mix.

“What we are saying is, you know, think carefully before you go. What kind of event is it? Are you likely to meet people who are vulnerable? Get a test, make sure there is ventilation, wear a mask on transport.”

Morrissey seemed to take umbrage with this difference in opinion but, reacting to her stance, people slammed Morrissey and defended Whitty’s freedom to express his scientific opinion:

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting called her comments “outrageous” and accused her of “attacking” Whitty:

And another Tory MP, Julian Smith, appeared to comment on the issue, writing:

However, Morrissey’s view was shared by some of her colleagues.

Speaking in the Commons, Steve Baker, the leading Tory opponent of coronavirus restrictions, questioned whether Whitty was “staying within the bounds” of government policy.

Addressing John Glen, a Treasury minister, he said: “What happens when officials give their advice is it has a massive capacity to herd the public into particular behaviours. So while the government has formally allowed hospitality businesses to stay open, the reality in my constituency is that fantastic businesses . . . have seen massive cancellations.

“So what reassurance can he give me that when officials speak, particularly on podiums at press conferences, that they are staying within the bounds of the policy that ministers have decided, and that what ministers have decided takes into account the broad spectrum of collateral harms that follow from, for example, encouraging people not to mix together?”

Steve Brine, a former health minister, also said: “At a stroke the chief medical officer changed government policy and put this country, certainly hospitality, into effective lockdown. Can I ask, yes or no, is what Professor Whitty said last night now the policy of this government — that we should socialise carefully? What in practical legal terms does that mean?”

He added: “Advisers are now running the show — I’ll bet none of them run businesses facing complete ruin as a result of what was said last night”.

What a pickle. Indy100 has contacted Morrissey to comment on this story.

She issued a statement saying: “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.

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

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