Boris Johnson ‘facing cabinet revolt’ over Covid restrictions

Several ministers planning to ‘resist’ the introduction of potential harsher measures, according to reports

Emily Atkinson
Sunday 12 December 2021 01:24
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<p>Prime Minister Boris Johnson took part in a festive quiz last December, No 10 confirmed (Adrian Dennis/PA)</p>

Prime Minister Boris Johnson took part in a festive quiz last December, No 10 confirmed (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Boris Johnson is reportedly facing a revolt within his own cabinet against the possible further tightening of Covid-19 restrictions as a wage of omicron variant infections looms.

A report in the Sunday Telegraph claimed a number of senior ministers are planning to “resist” the imposition of potential “plan C” measures due to the lack of comprehensive data surrounding hospitalisation and death rates with regards to omicron.

According to the newspaper, at least six cabinet ministers are said to have concerns that the government is looking to introduce harsher measures than those currently in place.

It comes as Boris Johnson heads toward what could prove to be the largest rebellion of his leadership, with more than 60 Conservative MPs said to be against the introduction of new coronavirus measures.

The PM announced on Wednesday he would be instating his winter plan B protocols in an attempt to ward off the omicron variant of the virus.

A number of Conservatives have hit out at the proposals, with dozens of backbenchers vowing to vote against plans for Covid passports to be made mandatory in large venues.

The introduction of Covid passes will mean those who have not been fully vaccinated or who are unable to present a negative lateral flow result will not be able to enter indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people from Wednesday.

The plan B measures also include compulsory mask-wearing in most public indoor settings, as well as guidance for employees to work from home where they can in order to stem transmission.

Former cabinet ministers David Davis, Esther McVey, Dr Liam Fox and Greg Clark are among those to have raised the alarm around the reintroduction of the latest set of restrictions.

Mr Clark, a former business secretary, said the government had “jumped the gun” in choosing to act before more was known about the impact omicron could have on hospital admissions.

Former trade secretary Dr Fox, speaking in a debate in the Commons, said it was “difficult to justify these extra measures”.

Senior Conservatives, including select committee chairmen Tobias Ellwood and William Wragg, have spoken in opposition to the measures while 2019 intake MPs such as Dehenna Davison and Lee Anderson - who represent so-called former Labour “red wall” constituencies - have announced they will rebel on Tuesday’s vote in the House of Commons.

Former defence minister Mr Ellwood, who chairs the Defence Committee, told Sky News on Saturday: “I’d strongly urge the government to drop the vote on vaccination passports next week.

“It is not the appropriate tactic to impose on a very weary nation at this time.”

When questioned about the prospect of a Tory rebellion, Michael Gove said he was “confident” MPs would examine the proposals “seriously, soberly and thoughtfully” in light of the fast way omicron has been spreading across the UK.

Speaking to broadcasters on Friday, he added: “I’m also confident people will conclude that, on balance, it is right to act.”

In England, the legal requirement to wear masks was extended to more indoor spaces including museums, galleries and community centres from Friday.

There will be a return to working from home guidance from Monday, and mandatory Covid passports for large venues is set to apply from Wednesday.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference this week he would like to lift the plan B measures “no later than early January”.

There will be a return to working from home guidance from Monday, and mandatory Covid passports for large venues is set to apply from Wednesday.

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference this week he would like to lift the plan B measures “no later than early January”.

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