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Boris Johnson has asked rebels in the Conservative party to “put differences aside” to back a vote on new lockdown measures in England, as his predecessor, Theresa May, tore into the government’s lack of transparency.
The prime minister vowed that the lockdown, which will come into force at midnight on Wednesday, will end in four weeks and that ministers would seek a “fresh mandate” on what came next.
“It is right for members on all sides of this house to have the doubts that have been expressed, to seek answers from me, and to provide scrutiny,” Johnson said.
“But while it pains me to call for such restrictions on lives, liberty, and business, I have no doubt that these restrictions represent the best and safest path for our country, our people and our economy.”
May suggested she had deep scepticism about the second lockdown and echoed calls of many leading rebels for the government to publish new data on the costs of the new restrictions, both economic and on on people’s wellbeing.
The former prime minister said a rolling series of lockdowns would cause “irreparable damage” to the economy and had a “significant impact on lives”. She said the localised tier system had not been given adequate time to work.
“What sort of airline industry are we going to have coming out? What sort of hospitality sector? How many small independent shops will be left? The government must have made this analysis, they must have made this assessment, let us see it and make our own judgments.”
Johnson did not remain in the Commons for May’s speech, causing cries of outrage from the opposition benches. But in his speech at the start of the debate, he said MPs would not find themselves trapped in an indefinite period of lockdown in England. He added it was his “express intent” to return to a tiered system of local restrictions.
“I know there are many in this house, who are concerned about how long these measures might last, and that if people vote for these regulations today, they could suddenly find that they’re trapped with these national measures for months on end,” he said.
“So let me level with the house. Of course I can’t say exactly where the epidemiology will be by 2 December, but what I can say is that the national measures that I hope the house will vote on tonight are time limited. It is not that we choose to stop them. They legally expire. So whatever we do from December 2nd will require a fresh mandate and a fresh vote from this house.”
Johnson reiterated the risk of the NHS being overwhelmed could have disastrous consequences. “It means that the precious principle of care for everyone who needs it, whoever they are, whenever they need it, that principle can be shattered for the first time in our experience,” he said.
“It means those who are sick and suffering and in need of help could be turned away because there was no room in our hospitals. “Doctors and nurses could be forced to make impossible choices about which patients would live and would die. Who would get oxygen and who couldn’t.”
Whips are expecting a moderate rebellion of between 20 to 30 MPs, with key Tory rebels including the former chief whip Mark Harper, the ex-cabinet minister Esther McVey and the chair and vice-chair of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady and Sir Charles Walker.
Harper told the Commons he was concerned about the modelling of the rapid rise of infections, saying it did not take into account the new tiered system. “I think therefore we’ve acted too soon, because we’re starting to see the tier system working,” he said.
Johnson said the data showed that hospitalisations were still mounting. “The curve is already unmistakable and alas incontestable,” he said.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Johnson accused of lack of transparency as he appeals for unity on lockdown | World news