100 Tories rebel over ‘Plan B’

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NHS workers depict the number of deaths last September – the figure in now over 1,000 – Tory and Labour MPs insist we have to live with it

JOHNSON’S ‘Plan B’ measures to attempt to slow the advance of the new Omicron strain of coronavirus only passed in Parliament yesterday with the support of the Labour Party.

Over 100 Tory MPs voted against the Covid passport measures, which require people to show vaccination proof or a negative test to enter night-clubs and other venues.

The measure passed 369 for and 126 against, and only got through with the support from the Labour Party who voted with Johnson.

The motion to make face masks compulsory in most indoor settings passed 441 to 41 against.

So, a considerable number of Johnson’s own Tory MPs rebelled on those measures as well.

The variant is spreading like wildfire through communities across the UK with more than 200,000 infections a day.

Sajid Javid, Tory Health and Social Care Secretary in moving the measures told Parliament: ‘Omicron has the potential to overwhelm the NHS. Let’s take the current doubling time as two days. Lets assume, for example, that Omicron is only half as harmful as the Delta variant.

‘It would only buy you an extra two days in which Omicron hospitalisations reach the same level as Delta. This threatens to translate into a spike of hospital admissions and threatens to overwhelm the NHS.

‘It would mean that, for instance, someone who is involved in a car crash and is seriously injured, the NHS would then have to make the difficult decision about who deserves treatment and who does not.’

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, Leicestershire North West, asked: ‘Has he heard the statement from Dr Angelique Coetzee, Director at the South African Medical board? It says that the government’s measures on lockdown may be counter-productive, and that Omicron is a mild form of Covid-19.

‘It will, actually, have huge benefits for herd immunity and protection. Delaying its spread may give time for a more virulent and pathogenic variant to take hold and cause more deaths in the UK.’

Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: ‘Decisions will be made when we know whether Omicron gives mild or severe disease.

‘And therefore, if it is mild, how quickly would there be a decision made that Omicron would be an advantage in getting rid of Delta and get us herd immunity.’

Desmond Swayne, Conservative MP for New Forest West, said: ‘Do we require people to be vaccinated as a condition of keeping their jobs? How far are they willing to go? The fact is that these are things that might take place and we have to balance that against the known costs to enterprise, economy and society.

‘The question of whether the measures before us are proportionate actually comes down to a matter of opinion. We are perfectly capable of organising our lives and making those decisions for ourselves.

‘It is a matter of our prejudice. Despite the carnage on our roads, certainly more deaths than Covid, some of us still decide to drive.

‘We decide what our risk appetite is and what we are prepared to encounter and what we are prepared to not.

‘So it comes down to letting loose the dogs of war, get the fear-factor into it. After twisting the fear-factor people will cry out for more enforcement and more fiercer measures to protect them from the danger that is out there.

‘The government have abandoned any principle of liberal democracy or of social democracy.’

Toby Perkins, Labour Shadow Education Minister, said: ‘He is facing a lot of criticism from the benches behind him, but he can be assured that from these benches we share his concern over this dangerous variant.’

Javid continued: ‘These measures will sunset on the 26 January.

‘Whilst we will keeping our testing regime in place I can announce today that we will be removing all eleven countries from the red list from 4.00am tomorrow morning.’

Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, said: ‘Will he then now release all those incarcerated in quarantine hotels who have been holed up in appalling conditions?’

Karl McCartney, Tory MP for Lincoln, said: ‘Not only should they be released, but they should be reimbursed for what they have had to pay.’

Wes Streeting, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘The goal in the end must be to learn to live with the virus. Let me take each of these measures in turn and explain why Labour supports them.

‘Masks are simply a price worth paying to be able to go out and live our lives.

‘I welcome that the government has listened to Labour, and we will support the measure of showing a vaccine pass to get into a night club.

‘We think the government have struck the right balance and give the measures our full support.

‘We will act in what we consider to be the national interest.’