CHRISTCHURCH MP Sir Christopher Chope reaffirmed his position that lockdowns, whether partial or total, are the "wrong strategy" in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also accused Matt Hancock of "gross scaremongering" after the Health Secretary failed to provide evidence for his comment earlier this month that "hundreds of thousands of deaths…would follow” if the Government “just let the virus rip”.

Sir Christopher, who has been critical of some of the Government's handling to the health crisis, said lockdown restrictions were "oppressive and profoundly unconservative".

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, he said: "As a Conservative, I have always believed that the role of the state is to provide a safety net for those who cannot help themselves.

"Now we have a Conservative Government who are preventing people from helping themselves by engaging in economic activity, and, having prevented those people from engaging in economic activity, the Government are not providing a safety net to all of them."

Sir Christopher said some people are missing out because they are not allowed to engage in economic activity.

He added: "In my constituency, people who work on cruise ships, people who work in the events industry and people who run luxury coaches are but three examples of the terrible cases that have come to my notice in recent days.

"In their actions, the Government are treating citizens not as individuals but as part of a collective, and that is depersonalising.

"It is most obvious in the Government’s refusal to differentiate between those who have had Covid-19 and are therefore immune, whether in the short or long term, and those who have not.

"If the state wanted to maximise liberty, it would remove the restrictions on freedom wherever it was possible so to do. What threat is there to public health from allowing those who are immune to Covid-19 to go about their normal business? That is what happens in Sweden."

Former minister Sir Christopher said the latest figures showed Sweden had two deaths from Covid-19 in the five days before he spoke in the Commons on October 22.

He said the Scandinavian nation allowed "much more" social activity than the UK, with its Government relying on individual citizens to trust each other.

Sir Christopher said: "Sweden’s citizens trust the Government, because the Government trust them. Why can we not do something similar?"

The 73-year-old also questioned the transparency of ministers over the decisions they were making.

He added: "We have heard the scaremongering, and the Department (of Health and Social Care) refuses to justify some of its most alarmist rhetoric.

"The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said on 1 October that "hundreds of thousands of deaths…would follow” if the Government “just let the virus rip”.

"I asked if he would publish the evidence in support of that statement. He has failed to do that—because, I suspect, there is no evidence in support of that statement. That was gross scaremongering.

"Instead of trying to build people’s confidence to engage in economic and social activity, the Government are actively frightening them. All this talk about long covid is also designed to try to frighten people, rather than addressing the collateral damage that the Government’s oppressive measures are causing."