Boris Johnson Faces Party Mutiny over Covid Restrictions

Boris
Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion from his Cabinet if he tries to introduce harsher coronavirus restrictions in England if the new restrictions the government plans to bring in on the 15th of December fail to decrease Covid cases.

This latest rebellion comes after over 60 Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) have already pledged to vote against Boris’s latest restrictions in Parliament.

These new restrictions, known as ‘Plan B’, include mandatory mask-wearing in England in most public indoor settings, the implementation of domestic vaccine passports for large events, and guidance advising that people should work from home.

Commentators across the political spectrum, as well as business leaders have heavily criticised Plan B.

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, the Bow Group, has called Plan B “political suicide”, and even mainstream figures such as the TV pundit and lockdown enthusiast Piers Morgan have branded the plans “utter nonsense“.

Boris’s Cabinet are supporting these measures, but at least six members are believed to have concerns about Johnson potentially moving towards harsher restrictions, referred to as ‘Plan C’.

Paul Holmes MP, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), has told constituents that he was considering refusing to back Plan C if it were to be introduced.

A government spokesman has however insisted “there are no plans” to introduce a Plan C.

This is despite Health Secretary Sajid Javid being advised by Britain’s top public health officials to introduce harsher Covid measures by the 18th of December to tackle the risk of increased hospitalisations over the Christmas period.

Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary and Boris Johnson’s former party leadership rival,  is reportedly leading the push for Plan C.

Following a COBRA meeting Gove chaired about the Omicron variant he said that “[the] very challenging new information” meant that “action is absolutely required”.

COBRA is the Civil Contingencies Committee that is convened to handle matters of national emergency or major disruption, named after the location where it often takes place — Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.

Currently, the government has not published what Plan C restrictions — if any — would look like, but The Sun has suggested Plan C will see a reintroduction of Covid rules such as a return to table service only and NHS app check-ins at pubs and restaurants, vaccine passports in smaller venues, and additional mask requirements in some outdoor settings and indoor venues not included in Plan B, such as gyms.

These two rebellions come at a turbulent time for Boris Johnson as he has been under increased scrutiny following the revelation that senior government figures may have attended an illegal gathering last December.

This has resulted in the Conservatives dropping behind the Labour Party in the national polls.

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