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On Saturday, the Prime Minister announced the UK will go into a second national lockdown as cases of the deadly coronavirus pandemic continue to rise. But now MPs are set to vote whether or not to introduce these measures.
According to ITV’s Robert Peston, MPs are queuing up to vote against the lockdown claiming it is based on “dodgy forecasts” and “out-of-date data”.
Mr Peston tweeted: “Tory MPs are queueing up to say they will vote against the lockdown – arguing it is based on dodgy forecasts and out-of-date data, and saying absence of impact assessments is intolerable.
“This is turning into a humiliation for the PM.”
A number of senior MPs on the Conservative backbenches indicated earlier this week that they will vote against new lockdown measures despite the soaring number of cases.
Any Tory rebellion is likely to be only symbolic, with Labour poised to back the Government on the measures.
Yesterday, BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said any revolt would be “seriously” damaging to the Prime Minister, who has been widely criticised for his handling of the pandemic.
Mr Watt said: “There will be a rebellion when MPs vote on this on Wednesday, but there is strong confidence in Government circles that they will be able to keep those rebels down below 20.
“Sixteen, 17, 18 rebels is the figure that is assumed at the moment.
“The crucial thing about that is that would mean that Boris Johnson would win this vote with the support of Conservative MPs.
“In other words, he wouldn’t have to rely on Labour votes.
“If he had to do that, that would seriously weaken him.”
Some Conservatives fear the long term economic damage caused by the lockdown will outweigh the health risks of allowing businesses to stay open, and that there are wider risks to mental health and an erosion of civil liberties from lockdowns.
Conservative former cabinet minister Esther McVey has revealed she would vote against the four-week lockdown because the “‘lockdown cure’ is causing more harm than COVID”.
Sir Graham Brady, the influential chairman of the 1922 Committee, said: “If these kinds of measures were being taken in any totalitarian country around the world, we would be denouncing it as a form of evil.”
Former chief whip Mark Harper, who condemned the handling of NHS Test and Trace, is expected to vote against the lockdown, while MP Peter Bone tweeted today to confirm he would.
He went on: “The government’s case is based on dubious modelling.
“It seems to me there are lies, damn lies and Covid statistics!”
Chris Green, Tory MP for Bolton West, also wrote on Facebook he thought another lockdown would be “ineffective and worse than the disease itself”.
He said: “I will be voting against the second lockdown.
“I know this goes against the wishes of the government and the Labour Party.
“I am doing this because of the experience my constituents have had demonstrates that this approach to dealing with Covid is ineffective and worse than the disease itself.”
Under the new lockdown measures, people are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave such as work which cannot be done from home.
Meeting indoors or in private gardens will now be banned but individuals can meet one other person from another household outside in a public place.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail across the country will close but takeaways will remain open.
Entertainment venues including gyms will also close again.
People are still allowed to form support bubbles and the furlough scheme is set to be extended despite warnings of the worst recession in history.
Over the weekend, new infections of the deadly virus reached more than 20,000 bringing the overall total to more than a million confirmed cases.
The UK is now the ninth country to reach the milestone of more than a million confirmed cases.
This is a breaking story. More to follow…
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