Senior Conservative MPs have demanded that Boris Johnson set out a “clear exit strategy” from the “nightmarish cycle” of Covid-19 restrictions as they signalled they could rebel over the latest measures.
After 16.4 million people were plunged into a new Tier 4, Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, called on ministers to begin drawing up a “clear road map” back to “normal life” in the new year.
With Christmas plans dashed for people across the country, he said that the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines must be closely linked to the relaxation of restrictions, with easements taking place at each stage of the immunisation programme.
The former chief whip also called for the latest changes to the rules to be put to a vote in Parliament at the “earliest opportunity”, even if doing so meant recalling MPs just days after they rose for the Christmas recess.
⚠️ Given the 3 tier system and the initial Christmas household rules were expressly authorised by the House of Commons, these changes must also be put to a vote in the Commons at the earliest opportunity, even if that means a recall of the House.
— Mark Harper (@Mark_J_Harper) December 19, 2020
“If the Government wants the support of the public and Parliament, it must publish a clear exit strategy from this nightmarish cycle of damaging lockdowns and restrictions,” he added.
“As we deliver the vaccine to the most at risk groups around the country, the public needs to see how this will translate into a return to normal life, with restrictions being lifted at every stage, and a clear road map to all our freedoms being restored as soon as this work is done.”
However, other Conservative MPs appeared to grant Mr Johnson more leeway. Sir Roger Gale, whose constituency North Thanet will enter Tier 4, said: “It is very hard but if we are to enjoy Christmas and at the same time stay safe it is vital that everyone sticks to the restrictions that have been announced this afternoon.
“The alternative will be a truly dangerous and terrible start to 2021.”