Boris Johnson warned ‘good evidence’ needed for new Covid tiers as climbdown fails to halt rebellion

Boris Johnson warned ‘good evidence’ needed for new Covid tiers as climbdown fails to halt rebellion

Conservative rebels have warned Boris Johnson he must provide “good evidence” for his controversial new Covid-19 tiers or face a backbench revolt this week, despite an eleventh hour climb-down.  

In a dramatic about turn, Mr Johnson told MPs the new system could last just nine weeks and offered them another vote on the restrictions at the start of February.  

But Tory MPs warned the shift has yet to quell the rebellion.

Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid-Derbyshire, said she “might” support the government in this week’s vote on the tiered measures if “more evidence” was laid out.

She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I think it will depend very much on what Boris does between now and Tuesday.

“If he produces that evidence and he can prove to us that he’s got good evidence to go on then I think he won’t have a rebellion.”

She said people were “not happy” and that MPs were “reflecting what their constituents are saying to them”.

Earlier Foreign secretary Dominic Raab raised the spectre of a return to national lockdown as he defended the new tiers.  

The rules were necessary to “bear down” on the pandemic, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.  

He said the government was trying to come out of a national lockdown “and stay out”.  

But he also warned of the risk of a third wave of Covid-19 if ministers did not get the virus under control.  

Tory MP and former children’s minister Tim Loughton said that unless MPs received the cost-benefit analysis they have asked for between now and Tuesday the prime minister’s letter offering a new sunset clause “does not change anything, I’m afraid.”  

Steve Baker, from the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, told the Mail on Sunday that he and others would “digest” the climdown over the weekend, but called on No10 to publish a full analysis of the “health, economic and social impacts of Covid and the measures taken to suppress them”.

In the same newspaper Mr Johnson urged his MPs to back the measures.  

He wrote: “It is crucial to understand that with the help of these scientific advances we hope to make progress – and to de-escalate – BEFORE Easter.”

He added that the new restrictions in place from Wednesday would not be a lockdown.  

“You will be able to leave your home for any reason. You can do your Christmas shopping, indeed any type of shopping; visit the gym; have a haircut; play organised sports; take part in communal worship; and meet friends in outside public places subject to the rule of six.

“We are so nearly out of our captivity. We can see the sunlit upland pastures ahead. But if we try to jump the fence now, we will simply tangle ourselves in the last barbed wire, with disastrous consequences for the NHS.”

There was also anger at reports the health minister Nadine Dorries told a group of Tory MPs the much-heralded Nightingale hospitals, built to help the NHS deal with extra Covid cases, were largely empty because people regarded them as “dark and dingy”.  

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