Second lockdown WILL end next month, Boris Johnson insistsNovember 3, 2020
Second lockdown WILL end next month, Boris Johnson insists as he faces a major Tory rebellion over new restrictions
- Boris Johnson insisted last night that second lockdown will end next month
- Prime Minister made comments during a two-hour grilling in the Commons
- Warned course of action is only way to head off ‘medical and moral disaster’
The second lockdown will end next month, whatever happens, Boris Johnson insisted last night as he tried to head off a major Tory rebellion over the new restrictions.
During a two-hour grilling in the Commons, a string of senior Conservatives warned the Prime Minister that his plans for an ‘authoritarian’ lockdown would wreck the economy.
The prospects of a full-scale revolt appeared to be receding after the Prime Minister pledged the draconian restrictions would be ‘strictly time-limited’.
The Prime Minister insisted the second lockdown would end next month during a two-hour grilling last night
He warned that his course of action is the only way to head off a ‘medical and moral disaster’ this winter.
But in an olive branch to Tory rebels, the PM said MPs would get a fresh vote on what should happen when the regulations expire next month.
Fresh optimism for a jab before Christmas
Hopes of a vaccine breakthrough were growing last night as it emerged that an announcement on the first to finish clinical trials is expected this week.
The UK has already signed up for 40million doses of the vaccine produced by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer if it works.
Britain is the only country to have secured early access to the vaccine before Christmas, with 10million doses set to be delivered and jabs already rolling off the production line.
Hopes of a vaccine becoming available this year had faded in recent months but sources say results on the jab developed by the German biotech firm BioNtech with Pfizer are likely to come this week.
If the results, based on trials with more than 43,000 people in six countries, are positive, it could be offered to the most elderly and at-risk before Christmas.
‘Whatever happens these restrictions end on December 2,’ he said, adding: ‘I think there is the prospect of a much brighter future ahead if we can make a success of these national measures and open up again in December, to give people the chance of some shopping and economic activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas and beyond.’
The PM’s comments appeared to overrule Michael Gove, who sparked fury on Sunday by suggesting the lockdown could be extended.
Downing Street said the Government hoped to revert to the system of ‘regional restrictions’ next month, with many areas expected to go into Tier Three.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer yesterday said his party would ‘provide the votes necessary’ to force the lockdown through when MPs vote on the restrictions tomorrow.
Tory whips were last night pleading with potential rebels not to hand Sir Keir a political victory by forcing the PM to rely on Labour votes.
However, ministers sparked fresh anger by ruling that MPs will have just 90 minutes to debate the new lockdown tomorrow – a time-limit described by former Tory chief whip Mark Harper as ‘unacceptable’.
In the Commons, Conservative MPs lined up to criticise the plan for a second lockdown, which Mr Johnson himself dismissed last month as the ‘height of absurdity’.
Sir Charles Walker said: ‘I will not be supporting the Government legislation on Wednesday because as we drift further into an authoritarian, coercive state, the only legal mechanism left open to me is to vote against that legislation.’
He added: ‘The people of this country will never ever forgive the political class for criminalising parents seeing their children and children seeing parents.’
Mr Johnson’s comments appeared to overrule Michael Gove who suggested the lockdown could be extended on Sunday
Fellow Tory Philip Davies said: ‘Can the PM… tell me how many collapsed businesses and how many job losses he and his Government believe are a price worth paying to continue pursuing this failed strategy of lockdowns and arbitrary restrictions.’
Former defence secretary Liam Fox called for a committee of MPs to examine all the scientific and economic evidence to ‘reassure the British public that the cure is not worse than the disease’.
And Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, called for a full impact assessment of jobs lost, business failures and the mental health impact and lives lost due to lockdown.
But the Prime Minister said there was ‘no alternative’ to a second lockdown as he highlighted that the virus was spreading more quickly than experts had feared.
Vitamin D pills plan to protect the vulnerable
Vitamin D pills could be issued to the clinically vulnerable to help protect them from Covid.
Boris Johnson indicated ministers were looking at the idea after studies suggested the vitamin, which boosts the immune system, could help cut infection rates and deaths.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis asked him to follow the approach of the Scottish NHS, which is issuing a four-month supply of the supplement to those who have been shielding.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘He is entirely right that we are indeed looking at the possible beneficial effects of vitamin D.’
He also announced that the Government will be making a ‘big push’ to encourage people to comply with self-isolation rules if they may be infected. It is expected the quarantine period will soon be reduced from 14 to seven days.
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