England prop Alec Hepburn has courted controversy after criticising the UK government over the imminent return to Tier 4 lockdown for certain areas of the country, claiming that the regime were using ‘force and coercion to manipulate the public into compliance’.

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Hepburn’s Instagram post divided opinions, with plenty lending their support to the post, while others condemned it.

 

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A post shared by Alec Hepburn (@alechepburn)

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“As someone who plays sport for a living I feel my opinion is no better or worst than those of any other walks of life. I voice my opinion privately to friends and family but often choose not to publicly. I feel strongly on the issue regarding tonight’s announcements and the policies implemented throughout 2020. Speaking as a citizen of the United Kingdom, I feel these orders by decree, placing unjustified duress on many is tantamount to abuse on the British public.

“This government uses force and coercion to manipulate the public into compliance. The public is talked down to, the public is blamed for increases in restrictions and the public is emotionally blackmailed with compliance or you will be killing people. This government does not represent the great values of this great nation, being freedom and individual liberty.

“There is no higher claim to one’s safety than that of the individual, only you can negotiate the trials and tribulations of life and the risk it presents to yourself. I write this not to merely share an opinion on the matter but encourage others to think critically and evaluate the role of government and the bad precedents being set,” the Exeter Chiefs’ prop concluded.

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Fellow England and Exeter Chiefs’ player Jack Nowell was among a number of players who supported the sentiment and himself to took to Twitter to post: “Sacrifice your summer to save Christmas” with a Pinocchio emoji:

It was not a view shared by everyone. Scotland scrum-half took the polar opposite views on the matter: “Bet 98% of the people moaning about going back to tier 4 are the same people that are going against the guidance anyway and wonder why nothing is improving. We’re all fed up but the virus can’t keep spreading if we just keep to ourselves. #rocketscience”

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