Boris Johnson sparks fight after saying Brits have had enough ‘days off’ during pandemic and need to ‘go back to office’
- The prime minister condemned the idea that Bank Holiday had already said enough ‘days off’ after the shutdown
- Boris Johnson told Tory Spring Conference that people should ‘go back to the office’
- Fears of homeworking threaten to devastate city centers and pubs
Boris Johnson has caused an argument by saying the British have had enough ‘days off’ because he turned down calls for a holiday when the lockdown is lifted.
The prime minister was accused of being “irresponsible” after insisting that the most important thing is to get people “back in the office” as the pandemic abates.
The comment came when Mr Johnson addressed the online Conservative Spring forum yesterday, delivering an optimistic message about his hopes of getting back to normal.
There are warnings that the massive move to work from home during Covid could permanently devastate city centers, hold young people back at the start of their careers and hinder team work.
Boris Johnson was accused of being ‘irresponsible’ after insisting that the most important thing is to get people ‘back in the office’ when the pandemic abates
There are warnings that the massive move to working from home during Covid could permanently devastate city centers. Pictured yesterday in central London
The prime minister said he can see ‘nothing’ in coronavirus data to change his lockdown easing plan, joking that he is looking forward to a pint and a haircut.
He said, ‘In a few days I can finally go to the barbershop.
‘But more important than that, I’m going to hit the streets and carefully, but irreversibly, I’m going to have a pint of beer at the pub.
“And as things stand now, I see absolutely nothing in the data stopping me from continuing on our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy, and getting back to the life we love.”
However, he added that a ‘third wave’ is being observed in parts of Europe, saying ‘bitter experience’ has taught him that it could hit the UK ‘three weeks later’.
When asked if the UK could have a national holiday dubbed ‘National Saturday’ once the pandemic subsides, he said Chancellor Rishi Sunak was ‘very keen’ to get people back into the office.
“The common view is that people have had quite a few days off, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if people saw their way to make a cursory attempt to get back to the office,” he added.
Shadow Secretary of Employment Andy McDonald told the observer that Mr Johnson’s comments were “ arrogant. ”
On the one hand, he tries to appease the libertarian wing of his party by talking about going back to the office, then suggesting that he is cautious. He just throws out comments like this. You cannot ride two horses at the same time. It’s not leadership, it’s just arrogant, ”he said.
He suggested that employers should have a duty to grant requests for remote work whenever possible, rather than treating working from home as days off.
“The right to work flexibly and remotely should be accompanied by an obligation for employers to reasonably agree to such a request,” he added.
Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said people should be encouraged to work from home “ in the near future. ”
“Right now, the focus should be on keeping new daily cases as low as possible while the roll-out of vaccinations continues,” he said.
‘We know that the transmission is higher when people come together indoors for a longer period of time. Hence, people should be encouraged to keep working from home for the foreseeable future. ‘