Boris Johnson on the brink as Cabinet turns on PM over Covid rules – Tory civil war erupts

Covid: Over 150,000 total UK deaths recorded

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak is the latest name to have emerged to be in favour of reducing the time those with Covid need to quarantine to five days. It is thought the Richmond MP believes the cut would help keep the economy running as thousands of businesses fear being crippled by staff shortages.

The increased pressure for action comes after the US took similar measures to reduce quarantine at the end of last month.

Last week Mr Johnson ruled out the UK following suit saying: “We’ll continue to look at the infectivity periods, but the key thing is we don’t want to be releasing people back into the workplace when they’re still infectious.

“And the risk is you’d increase the numbers of people going back into the workplace who are infectious by a factor of three.

“So you might perversely have a negative effect on the workforce if you see what I mean, so that’s the argument we’re looking at.”

But over the weekend Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi became the first minister to publicly back the five day isolation.

He told Sky News: “It would certainly help mitigate some of the pressures on schools, on critical workforce and others.”

Teacher absences in schools currently stands at 8.5 percent and could rise further, the minister added.

Mr Sunak’s became linked to support for the policy overnight, with up to 60 percent of the Cabinet also in favour of the cut, according to The Telegraph.

They are expected to confront Mr Johnson on the matter when the Cabinet meets tomorrow.

Backbench MPs have similarly let their feelings be known on the issue.

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Former cabinet minister Sir John Redwood said: “Mr Sunak is right to support cutting the isolation period for people who do not feel unwell.”

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen added: “The biggest threat now to the NHS and indeed to all essential services and essential businesses is from forced absenteeism due to self-isolation due to the high levels of infection.

“America has drop the self-isolation to five days, I think we can do the same.”

Amid the rising demands from MPs, Mark Harper, the Tory chairman of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, last night also indicated the Prime Minister was set for a devastating revolt if he attempted to continuing imposing Plan B measures on the public.

The measures expire on January 26 and Mr Johnson will need to hold a fresh Commons vote if he wishes to extend them.

When Plan B was first introduced, more than 100 Conservative MPs rejected the extra measures.

Mr Johnson was forced to rely on the support of Labour to get the restrictions over the line.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Harper warned the Prime Minister over a new vote: “I think there will be even more people against it.

“I think the intellectual argument now is even weaker.”

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