Boris bruised by Tory revolt over ‘hellish’ corona curbs
As 32 MPs vote against measures...
TORY MPs were yesterday in revolt at the return of selfisolation rules, fearing Britain could have another ‘pingdemic’ before Christmas.
One of them warned that the curbs could lead on a ‘downward path to hell’, as thousands could be told to stay away from workplaces, schools and families.
Thirty-two backbenchers rebelled against fresh regulations which will force all contacts of ‘suspected Omicron cases’ to selfisolate for ten days, even if they are fully vaccinated.
In a heated Commons debate, MPs voiced fears that the rules could bring the country grinding to a halt – and questioned how health officials would define contacts.
Conservative former chief whip Mark Harper asked why ministers would review face coverings in December, but have not set out an expiry date for the self-isolation rule.
He said that meant the regulation ‘will run all the way until the main statutory instrument expires on March 24, 2022’.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup insisted that the Government ‘will not continue to have these regulations in place for any longer than is necessary’.
But Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, warned against ‘mission creep’.
He said the Government’s ‘immediate assumption’ is to reach for ‘new controls, new compulsion, new rules that will be inflicted on the British people’.
‘We need to move back to a world where we trust people,’ he added. Former minister Steve Baker suggested the Government was overreacting to the Omicron variant and ‘choosing that downward path towards, frankly, hell’.
‘The hell of minute management of our lives by edict, with nothing we can do about it.’
Sir Desmond Swayne said the rule change ‘fundamentally undermines’ the effort to increase vaccination rates by removing the exemption for vaccinated people to isolate.
‘You’re removing the principle incentive to get vaccinated,’ he said. Steve Brine, a former public health minister, warned a fresh pingdemic could ‘devastate education again’.
But last night Boris Johnson sought to play down the likelihood of hundreds of thousands being told to self-isolate.
He said: ‘On the risks of going back to where we were in July, the so-called pingdemic, I don’t think that is likely to happen.’
MPs approved the regulations linked to self-isolation requirements by 431 votes to 36, a 395 majority, in a retrospective vote.
Self-isolation rules wreaked havoc for families and businesses in the summer as hundreds of thousands of people a week were ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid app.