THE JOHNSON government faces an expected rebellion by about 60 Conservative MPs in tomorrow’s House of Commons votes to pass new ‘Plan B’ Covid-19 regulations.
This will mean that the parliamentary Tory Party is split and that the Johnson government will have to rely on opposition Labour votes in order to continue to govern.
Accusing Johnson of creating ‘a miserable dystopia,’ the leader of the Tory rebels, Wycombe MP Steve Baker, announced the relaunch of the Conservative Way Forward group of Tory MPs yesterday morning.
He said: ‘It feels to me that there will be at least 60 voting against, but of course it’s a foregone conclusion because our useless opposition in name only will continue to support the government however authoritarian they are.’
On Saturday, a government spokesman indicated that the introduction of Plan B measures for England will be divided into three separate votes tomorrow.
There is likely to be one vote on new facemask rules, another will be held on whether a daily negative test result should allow those exposed to a positive case to avoid self-isolation and a third vote will be held on the Covid status certification, described by some as vaccine passports, but which can be obtained through a negative lateral flow test.
In addition, there is also expected to be a vote this week on mandatory vaccination for NHS staff in England.
Despite having previously been against it, Labour is now expected to back the government’s plan to make jabs for NHS staff compulsory.
As recently as October, Labour leader Starmer said he was opposed to the idea of compulsion, but it is understood the party has changed its mind after briefings from government scientific advisers.
That vote could also come before Parliament as soon as tomorrow. Although Plan B has not yet passed, there is already talk that the government might bring further measures in England as Omicron cases rise.
A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests the UK will face a substantial wave of Omicron infections in January without further restrictions, beyond Plan B.
It also said the number of deaths could range from 25,000 to 75,000 between now and April.
Another row has blown up after Boris Johnson took part in a Christmas quiz sitting between two colleagues in Downing St on 15 December last year – while indoor household mixing was banned in London.
Labour leader Starmer said it appeared Johnson had breached Covid laws in place at the time and told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the event had created ‘fury’ and that trust in the prime minister is at an ‘all-time low’.
Asked whether he thought Johnson was in breach of the Covid legal restrictions, Starmer told Marr: ‘It looks as though he was. We’ll have to look into it, but it’s very hard to see how that’s compliant with the rules…
‘He has damaged his authority, he is now so weak, his party is so divided – he can’t deliver the leadership this country needs. He is the worst possible leader at the worst possible time.’