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Boris Johnson moves to assure UK lockdown skeptics

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Lockdown-skeptic Conservatives want assurance on the UK’s vaccine rollout.

LONDON — Boris Johnson promised MPs the U.K. government will use “every second” of the new national coronavirus lockdown to vaccinate the most vulnerable, and suggested restrictions will be wound down before the end of March.

The U.K. prime minister said the difference between the latest restrictions and previous plans was the power to “place this invisible shield” of vaccines around those most at risk, after his anti-lockdown backbenchers demanded a boost in ambitions.

He said the March 31 end date in the law — which some Conservatives have raised concerns about — did not mean restrictions would last three months. But he cautioned that the “emergence from the lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping,” with restrictions wound down over the spring and that MPs able to debate the rules in the meantime. 

The comments came as the House of Commons was recalled from an extended Christmas break. That was in response to the sweeping new measures which were brought in to contain the surging new COVID-19 strain, which medics have warned could overwhelmed the NHS.

The laws came into force on Wednesday morning but MPs will in the evening get to vote retrospectively on the measures. There is no expectation the measures will fail to pass, with the opposition Labour Party pledging to back the prime minister.

But a number of Johnson’s lockdown-skeptic backbenchers are mulling whether or not to vote against the plans, even if the rebellion is set to be smaller than in previous lockdown votes. 

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Labour leader Keir Starmer said he would support the plans but argued: “This is not just bad luck, it’s not inevitable, it follows a pattern.” He said the government had been too slow to act and had snubbed expert advice.

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-uk-england-lockdown-conservatives-skeptics-coronavirus-restrictions/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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