JACOB Rees-Mogg has said that the Tory government cannot keep lockdown in place “just to stop the hospitals being full”.

The Tory Leader of the House of Commons was speaking on ConservativeHome’s “Moggcast” show when he made the comments.

They come in the wake of Boris Johnson announcing a four-week suspension of the planned lockdown easing in England.

Signalling dissent in the Conservative Cabinet, Rees-Mogg said it was not the public’s job “to serve the NHS” and warned against restrictions that “never end”.

The Tory MP also drew “ludicrous” comparisons between the pandemic and accidents in the home.

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Asked about lockdown, the Delta variant’s spread, and the impact on hospitals’ ability to function effectively, Rees-Mogg said: “Ultimately, the NHS is there to serve the British people, not the British people there to serve the NHS, and therefore we may need to spend more money on hospitals but you can’t run society just to stop the hospitals being full.

“Otherwise you’d never let us get in our cars and drive anywhere or do any of the other things that people want to do. There has to be some proportionality within that. The government doesn’t have the right to take charge of people’s lives purely to prevent them seeing the doctor.”

He went on: “Actually, otherwise we’d never be allowed in our kitchens where a disproportionate number of accidents in the home take place or our bathrooms, so we’d become very hungry and very smelly on that basis.”

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Reacting to the Tory’s comments, Labour shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “Rees-Mogg spends so much time with nanny he thinks the nanny state lurks around every corner. Comparing a pandemic with accidents at home is a ludicrous analogy to make and shows a complete detachment from how this virus has affected people.

“His statement that it’s not the government’s job to protect the NHS is foolish in the extreme and of course contrary to his own government’s policy for the last year. The mask has slipped if he doesn’t think the NHS is worth protecting.”

The news heralds further division between Johnson and members of his Cabinet, following on from Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel’s opposition to England football players taking the knee against racism ahead of the Euro 2020 matches.

The National:

While Johnson and Michael Gove have backed the players’ right to express their “strength of feeling against prejudice” and said it is “totally wrong” to boo them for doing so, Patel and Rees-Mogg have said the opposite.

Rees-Mogg said there “wasn’t any evidence” that those booing the players for taking a stand against racism were racist themselves. He claimed they were pushing back against “wokeness” and reacting to the “underlying political message” of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

He said: “The BLM movement is a Marxist movement that wants to do things like defund the police and is not sympathetic to our current civic structures.”

Patel said taking a knee was “gesture politics”.

Labour’s Zarah Sultana responded: “‘Gesture politics’ is not following words with actions.

“For example, clapping NHS workers and then cutting their pay.”