Keir Starmer issues statement over Covid-19 lockdown
The Prime Minister faced a revolt by more than 50 of his backbenchers last time he took tougher coronavirus restrictions to the House of Commons. But party insiders said they expected the figure to “shrink” for Wednesday’s vote amid fears about the impact of the new Covid strain sweeping the country.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who ordered his MPs to abstain in the December vote, has also said he backs the English shutdown.
Senior Tory David Jones, who opposed the new tier system last month, said he will vote for the Government’s lockdown plan.
“If you look at the figures, this new variant is significantly more dangerous,” he said.
“We need the government to keep parliamentarians in touch with what is going on and I think that the most important thing is to get a strong indication from the Government that the vaccination programme is being rolled out as quickly as it hopes.”
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Mr Jones said the Prime Minister’s target to have the most vulnerable groups vaccinated by mid February was “ambitious” but pointed out the UK is vaccinating “more than the rest of Europe put together”.
Andrew Bridgen, who also voted against the Government’s Covid restrictions last month said he will support the lockdown on Wednesday.
Conservative MP Peter Bone said he plans to support the Government on Wednesday.
He said: “The new variant has changed everything. The other big change since last time is, of course, the vaccine.
“What lockdowns do is delay the disease, they don’t get rid of it. If we can delay now and people can be vaccinated, when we do ease the restrictions we won’t have to go into another lockdown because people will be protected.
“I think the Prime Minister was right to change his position on the basis the facts changed.”
Tory Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservatives that has raised concerns about the impact restrictions are having on the country, has called for a “clear threshold for when a substantial relaxation in restrictions can begin”.
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It comes as two letters were reportedly submitted to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers calling for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.
But insiders dismissed the move as “people with an axe to grind” and insisted the party is widely supportive of Mr Johnson.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has asked MPs to take part in Wednesday’s vote online.
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