Boris Faces Massive Tory Rebellion over Coronavirus Restrictions

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street in London on December 1, 2020 after attending the weekly cabinet meeting held at the nearby Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. - UK lawmakers were set to vote on a new toughened system of tiered coronavirus restrictions on December 1 …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion of up to 100 Conservative MPs planning to vote against putting 99 per cent of England under the top two strictest coronavirus measures.

The prime minister’s proposals from last week revealed that despite England being under a month-long lockdown during November, more of the country will find itself in a higher tier coming out of shutdown than going in, with just Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, and the Isle of Wight in Tier 1.

Conservative MPs were outraged by the recommended demarcations, calling the measures “authoritarian”, with others saying that the “wheels are coming off the government’s arguments” to continue imposing them.

MPs are set to vote on the measures in the House of Commons today, with media reporting that as many as between 50 and 100 Tories will rebel against their own government and vote against them, including Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee.

The Guardian has also reported that Labour plans to abstain from voting, because the financial support, derived from taxpayers, for the hospitality industry must go further than the government’s recovery package.

Tier 2 bans socialising indoors with anyone outside their house or support bubble and limits it to six outdoors, while Tier 3 prohibits any mixing with people not in your household or bubble inside or in most outdoor settings. Tier 3 also sees pubs, bars, and restaurants close unless they can function as takeaways, while in Tier 2, alcohol at hospitality venues can only be served with a ‘substantial meal’.

Conservative lockdown sceptics from the COVID Recovery Group won a minor battle in forcing the Johnson administration to release the impact assessments that informed the government’s decision, but MPs are said to be disappointed with the document, described as “thin” and containing a “rehashed” and frustrating analysis.

Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, Mark Harper, said: “Even with so little time, the government’s analysis seems to be collapsing under the glare of scrutiny.

“Before the current lockdown, incorrect death and hospital capacity modelling was leaked into the public domain to justify it. We asked for full details. We have asked repeatedly for the information that vindicates these hospital projections, and they have not been forthcoming.

“We are now seeing that, once again, the wheels are coming off the government’s arguments.”

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called the document a “cut and paste job”, insinuating that the government had provided no new analysis at all.

However, despite the anticipated massive Tory rebellion and Labour abstaining, the proposals are expected to pass with support from the Conservative “payroll vote” government ministers and Johnson loyalists in the backbench, as well as a handful of Labour MPs defying Sir Keir Starmer.

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