Tory Councillor Marc Asquith
Here in the North West, Cheshire East is our local council, having been formed from Crewe and Nantwich, Congleton, and Macclesfield councils. Meetings of councillors have, during the Pandemic, been held online. But central Government had allowed the law making that provision to expire. So this week’s Cheshire East meeting was “in person”.
Enter one Marc Asquith, who represents mainly rural Chelford. He’d taken a Covid test and on Monday this week, he apparently discovered he had tested positive. So he emailed his fellow Councillors to give them the news. But with a rather nasty twist.
“Colleagues, I appear to have tested positive for Covid-19 this evening”, he admitted. But then he continued “However, given that I have had the two jabs, I am not concerned … Since I have a skin condition, I do not wear a mask but rather a visor, I plan to attend tomorrow as required … Those of you that are shielding may wish to keep social distancing from me”. Social distancing? The blowback was not long in coming.
Phil McCann from the BBC told “This councillor says he will be at tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) full [Cheshire East] council meeting in person, despite testing positive for coronavirus … The council’s chief executive has told him that ‘on no account’ should be attend. It’s provoked outrage, disbelief and some confusion from some councillors who’ve got in touch with me late tonight”. Shadow health minister Justin Madders responded simply “Wow”.
He later put out a slightly longer statement. Meanwhile, McCann noted “Labour’s response to all this - [Cheshire East] leader [Sam Corcoran] told [BBC Radio Stoke] it was ‘madness’, former Crewe & Nantwich MP and now cllr [Laura Smith] said she was ‘disgusted’”. Ms Smith confirmed this: “Too right I am disgusted. Here is my reply to his previous email trying to brush it all off #resign”. What say the Tories to that one?
As the BBC has reported, after being instructed not to attend the council meeting, Asquith “said his plan to attend when he believed he had Covid-19 had been ‘a bad decision and I sought to rectify it as soon as I could this morning’” but also “said that as ‘no actual harm was done... I don't think it calls for a resignation’ … The Conservatives said the councillor had ‘apologised for his poor judgement’”. So he won’t be resigning, then.
It wasn’t the only thing that Asquith got wrong: “Mr Asquith told the BBC earlier he had been ‘advised that the test result was actually negative’, and that he had been ‘mistaken’ and misread a home testing kit”. But at least he apologised, which his fellow Tories in Westminster sometimes find too much to even contemplate doing.
The iron Tory rule of no resignations holds, even locally. Bozo will be pleased.
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