Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt on crunch vote TODAY on extending Covid powers until SEPTEMBER
Boris Johnson will face the wrath of his own lockdown-sceptic backbenchers today as he pushes through an extension of lockdown laws until the autumn.
A hardcore of as many as 60 Conservative MPs is expected to rebel against Government plans to extend emergency powers to the end of September, despite the lockdown officially ending in June.
Politicians in the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) blasted the ‘significant draconian powers’ and questioned the need for them to be in place if the UK has returned to relative normal.
However, any Tory rebellion is almost certain to fail to impede the legislation, with Labour planning to back it in this evening’s Commons vote.
CRG leader Mark Harper, who believes plans to ease the lockdown ‘could safely go more quickly’, told Sky News: ‘The biggest problem today is the extension of some very significant draconian powers in the Coronavirus Act which the Government doesn’t want to extend until June, it actually wants to extend all the way into October.
‘And these are quite significant powers; they are powers, for example, for the police to detain people indefinitely and to continue having powers to shutdown events and so forth all the way through to October.
‘And I haven’t heard a single good answer about why the Government wishes to do that, given that the Prime Minister has said he wants to be out of all of our legal restrictions by June.’
But pn a visit to a school in Greenford, north west London this morning Mr Johnson defended his libertarian instincts.
‘The libertarian in me is also trying to protect people’s fundamental right to life and their ability to live their lives normally and the only way really to restore that for everybody is for us to beat the disease, and the best path to freedom is down the cautious but irreversible road map that we’ve set out – that’s what the freedom-lover wants,’ he said.
Boris Johnson (pictured this morning) will face the wrath of his own lockdown-sceptic backbenchers today as he pushes through an extension of lockdown laws until the autumn.
CRG leader Mark Harper told Sky News: ‘These are quite significant powers; they are powers, for example, for the police to detain people indefinitely and to continue having powers to shutdown events and so forth all the way through to October’
A hardcore of Conservative MPs is expected to rebel against Government plans to extend emergency powers to the end of September, despite the lockdown officially ending in June.
The legislation for restrictions over the coming months, as the Government sets out its road map for coming out of lockdown, will see some restrictions remain in place in England until at least June 21.
There are also question marks over summer holidays taking place after that date, amid a third wave of Covid infections in mainland Europe.
But Conservative MP Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the CRG, said the vote was a ‘rare opportunity’ for MPs to ‘say no to a new way of life in a checkpoint society’.
‘I was glad to hear the Prime Minister reassure William Wragg MP at the Liaison Committee today that ‘anything that is redundant will go’ in relation to Coronavirus Act powers,’ the former minister said last night.
‘Draconian police powers under Schedule 21, which have a 100 per cent unlawful prosecution record, must be considered ‘redundant’ to say the very least.
‘I am seeking to table an amendment to the motion tomorrow asking ministers to suspend those powers.
It comes as Matt Hancock said he could see an ‘end’ to the pandemic that would involve managing coronavirus ‘more like flu’ with repeated and updated vaccinations.
The Health Secretary expressed confidence about the UK’s ability to manage Covid-19 in the future, telling the Financial Times: ‘It depends what you mean by ”end”. I see an end where Covid is managed more like flu: we repeatedly vaccinate, we update the vaccines according to mutations and we manage the challenges, especially around transmissions over winter.
‘I’m confident that’s where we can get to. I want to get to a position where we can have an updated vaccine in weeks or months, not a year.’
Government data up to March 23 shows 28,653,523 people have received a first vaccine dose, a rise of 325,650 on the previous day.
A further 98 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the total by that measure to 126,382.
As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 5,605 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, bringing the total to 4,312,908.
Sir Jeremy Farrar said he believes it is likely that the ban on international travel will need to continue.
The Wellcome Trust director said: ‘I think it will, until we can see progress in Europe with the epidemic coming down and vaccination rates going up in Europe.’
Asked about further testing of people coming in, he said lateral flow tests ‘don’t pick up every case but they do pick up the cases that are more infectious, and that is a very, very important public health intervention’.
On the issue of vaccine certificates and passports, he said he thinks they could cross the line ‘of individual freedoms and public health’, adding that ‘public health works when there is trust and when people want to do things that are their interests, and in the interests of their community, their families and their society’.
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