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Nigel Farage has criticised the home secretary for saying she would call the police if she saw her neighbours breaking coronavirus rules, comparing the prospect of Britons snitching on their neighbours to Stasi informers of Communist former East Germany.

On Monday, rules came into force that limits public and private gatherings to six people, with those breaking the law facing fines or even arrest.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has so far failed to get to grips with the policing of the UK’s external borders, backs the use of authorities policing Britons congregating freely in their own country.

She told Sky News on Tuesday that if she saw her neighbours breaking the rules, “then, quite frankly, I would call the police”.

“It’s not dobbing in neighbours, it’s all about us taking personal responsibility,” Ms Patel claimed.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage remarked on Patel’s statement, saying: “Have we become like East Germany where children were encouraged to report on their parents?”

Mr Farage is not the only figure to evoke the former Communist state when describing the culture of the Conservative government’s new coronavirus measures. Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Jonathan Sumption remarked on Sunday: “The ban on socialising in groups of more than six is unenforceable except in a Stasi-style surveillance state with a poisonous network of informers.”

The home secretary had even suggested when speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “mingling” — two households of more than a combined six people stopping on the street to chat — was banned, even if they talked at a distance.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse was the first Conservative Party figure to say that Britons should rat out their neighbours if they see them in groups of more than six. Labour’s former leader Ed Miliband also said on Monday that he would call “the authorities” on his neighbours if he saw them breaking the ‘rule of six’.

The most outspoken Tory critic of the government’s draconian measures, Brexiteer Steve Baker, had said last week that the new regime was “not a fit legal environment for a free people”.

Mr Baker called for the end of restrictions, saying: “It’s time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements.”

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