The PM urges MPs to vote in favour of a second national shutdown, but is facing a Conservative rebellion
Boris Johnson has warned of deaths “on a grievous scale” without further action, such as the 2nd national lockdown, to stem the spread of coronavirus infections.
As he opened a House of Commons debate on England’s new lockdown, the prime minister urged MPs to vote in favour of a second national shutdown later on Wednesday.
This comes after Sir Keir Starmer has said that the “human cost” of a delayed lockdown is the fault of the PM and the Chancellor in a speech to UK business leaders.
Mr Johnson reiterated his intent that England’s lockdown would end on 2 December, but he added what followed the month-long shutdown from Thursday would be up to MPs.
“Of course I can’t say exactly where the epidemiology will be by 2 December, but what I can say is that the national measures that I hope the House will vote on tonight, are time-limited,” he said.
“It is not that we choose to stop them, they legally expire. So whatever we do from 2 December will require a fresh mandate and a fresh vote from this House.
“And as I have made clear, it is my express intent that we should return to a tiered system on a local and a regional basis according to the latest data and trends.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his MPs would vote for the lockdown with “a heavy heart”.
He added that while the new lockdown measures were “not in any way desirable or perfect, they are now necessary because the government’s lost control of the virus”.
Mr Johnson walked out of the Commons chamber during a speech by his predecessor Theresa May.
The ex-prime minister raised concerns about a lack of data on the impact of the government’s COVID decisions on the economy, mental health, domestic abuse and non-coronavirus treatments.
She told MPs:
“Jobs lost, livelihoods shattered, businesses failing, whole sectors damaged,”
“What sort of airline industry are we going to have coming out of this? What sort of hospitality sector? What sort of small independent shops will be left?
This comes after the UK’s National Health Service is getting ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines before Christmas if a jab is ready, NHS England’s chief executive has said. No vaccines for COVID-19 have yet to have been approved but there are two frontrunners in the late-stages of clinical trials in the UK
But on Wednesday morning, Mr Johnson had used a pre-recorded speech to the Confederation of British Industry to declare the government would “end these autumn measures on 2 December when they expire”.
The prime minister also apologised to businesses for the “frustrations and the nightmare” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to thank you for the heroic efforts you’ve made to look after your employees, to make your premises COVID-secure, putting in Perspex screens,” he said.
“All the trouble you’ve gone to in complying with the kinds of diktats that I never believed we would have to impose which, I assure you, go completely against every free market instinct I possess.”