British politician Nigel Farage has warned that the UK risks becoming a police state. His statement comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people who arrive in the UK and lie about traveling to ‘red list’ nations could face 10 years in prison.
If they breach quarantine rules, they can be charged up to £10,000 fines. The 10-year prison term puts the offense on par with crimes like poisoning, threatening to kill, and possessing firearms with intent.
Farage accused Hancock of being “drunk in his own power” and pointed out that the Coronavirus Act allows ministers to implement draconian measures without taking a vote in parliament or due process, becoming a threat to civil liberties.
The politician also criticized the government’s hypocrisy against British travelers returning to the country, asking them to stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days if they come from ‘red list’ nations. It would cost each person almost £1,750. In contrast, illegal aliens coming in from the English Channel are free from such compliance.
“If you come into the UK illegally by dinghy across the English Channel on the next calm day, the fact that you’ve got no documentation, the fact you’ve not had a PCR coronavirus test in the previous three days, none of that will matter. You will still get put into a hotel. The difference is: nobody will charge you £1,700 for the privilege… If ever there was a moment to start dealing with illegal immigration, surely it’s now. If we’re going to get tough with our borders, is this not the moment to say, ‘We will not accept people coming criminally into the United Kingdom and posing a massive coronavirus risk’?” he said in a statement.
Jonathan Sumption, former British Supreme Court Justice, is also concerned about the government’s ability to force new measures and the expanded powers given to the police to enforce them. He warns that all these are indicative of a police state. Dominic Grieve, former Tory MP and ex-attorney general, feels that the 10-year penalty is “exaggerated” and that no one will be sentenced to such a punishment as the courts will never impose it.
Is the UK turning into a Police State?
Many people from the travel industry are also unhappy with the government’s decision of 10-year prison terms. They feel it will only further damage the business sector that has suffered the most under the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have welcomed the testing plans but are asking that the mandatory hotel quarantines be replaced.
Huw Merriman, chairman of the Transport Select Committee, notes that summer travel is critical for the aviation industry. He warns that if restrictions are in place until 99 percent of mortality risk is vaccinated, something that won’t happen until May, the aviation industry could be severely affected.
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps feels that the 10-year jail sentence is an ‘appropriate” decision to deal with as concerns about the virus continue to become more widespread.
“What we’re dealing with now are the variants and, with variants, we cannot risk it in these final stages – where we’ve got the vaccine rolled out – that we might end up with a difficulty from variations, although we think so far that we’ll be able to take care of them through the vaccines,” he told Sky News.
“And, because of that, we think… things like prison sentences for lying about being in one of those red list countries are appropriate.”