Astonishing moment Tory MP announces milk protest during COVID law debate

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read

Watch: Tory MP's full astonishing speech as he announces milk protest during COVID law debate

This is the full astonishing speech from a Tory lockdown sceptic as he announces he’s going to protest around London with a pint of milk.

Sir Charles Walker, who has a history of anti-lockdown outbursts in the House of Commons, said the milk will “represent” his protest.

The Broxbourne MP's bizarre speech came as MPs debated another six-month extension to the Coronavirus Act.

The act was introduced at the start of the pandemic a year ago, and contains emergency powers such as banning mass gatherings and enforcing screening for people deemed infectious.

Sir Charles Walker has announced he is going to protest around London with a pint of milk. (Parliamentlive.tv/PA)
Sir Charles Walker has announced he is going to protest around London with a pint of milk. (Parliamentlive.tv/PA)

The legislation must be reviewed by MPs every six months.

Launching into his speech on Thursday, Walker predicted that “as sure as eggs are eggs”, the act will be extended again in September.

“But this afternoon, I’m not here to talk about eggs, I want to talk about milk.”

Walker claimed he is going to “protest about the price of milk”, despite not being sure if it’s “too high or too low”.

He said the pint of milk “will represent my protest” as he walks around the capital.

Inviting other people to join him with pints of milk, Walker took a swipe at the government, as well as top coronavirus advisers such as Sir Patrick Vallance, Prof Chris Whitty, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam and Dr Jenny Harries.

"Perhaps they will be protesting... a loss of career, or job, or business. Maybe they will be protesting this country’s slide into authoritarianism, or perhaps they’ll be protesting the fact that we allow unelected officials to have lecterns at Number 10 to lecture us how to live our lives."

Walker, who didn't explicitly say he was protesting against restrictions, claimed: “Now my protest, as I said, will be about none of those things.

Tory MPs watch Sir Charles Walker during this speech in the House of Commons debate on Thursday. (Parliamentlive.tv)
Tory MPs watch Sir Charles Walker during this speech in the House of Commons debate on Thursday. (Parliamentlive.tv)

“It will simply be about the price of milk and… for the next few days, I will have that pint on me, it will be of symbolic importance to me and at the end of the day it will be warm, it will have suppurated and I can choose whether to drink it or pour it away, because it’ll be robbed of its refreshing elegance by the time it’s been in my pocket for 12 hours.

“And if I pour it away, that might cause people some concern. But it doesn’t matter because it’s my pint of milk and it’s my protest and I’m not seeking people’s acclaim, endorsement or support in my protest.”

He concluded: “That pint shall remind me that the act of protest is a freedom, not a right, and unless you cherish freedoms every day, unless you fight for freedoms every day, they end up being taken away from you.”

What Walker didn’t mention in his four-minute speech was how ineffective the Coronavirus Act has been.

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The latest Crown Prosecution Service figures for February showed that all six people accused of breaching the act last month were wrongly charged, which means there have now been 262 incorrect prosecutions since it was introduced.

Human rights barrister Kirsty Brimelow told MPs last month the act has “continually been used wrongly and unlawfully against members of the public” and that “there is a very strong case to repeal” it.

Walker was among a number of Tory MPs who spoke out against renewing the act, alongside Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, who said: “The danger in what is being proposed today is that we risk normalising an extreme policy response.”

Mark Harper, chair of the COVID Recovery Group of Tory lockdown-sceptic MPs, also said: "These are extraordinary provisions, not for normal times, and they should be expired at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The extension was later passed by 484 votes to 76, a majority of 408.

Watch: How England is leaving lockdown