UK PM Johnson Faces Backbench Revolt if He Pushes for COVID Lockdown Extension
16:05 GMT 08.11.2020
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied allegations by leading Conservative backbench MP Sir Graham Brady that the government was exaggerating the potential death toll from coronavirus to justify draconian lockdown measures.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could see a bigger backbench revolt if extends the new COVID-19 lockdown past December 2.
MP Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative Party backbenchers, warned more could join the 39 Tories and others who voted against the second wave of restrictions on Wednesday - including former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
"Some of us voted against lockdown but my sense is that far more would make a stand if a third lockdown were to be contemplated", Brady told Sunday's edition of The Observer.
The four-week nationwide lockdown in response to a spike in coronavirus cases came into force on Thursday and will last until December 2 - but Downing Street may choose to extend it if the trend in daily new cases does not decline. It replaces the short-lived three-tier system of restrictions varying from region to region and city to city.
Brady pointed to inaccurate data used in Johnson's announcement last weekend - flanked by government Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance - which exaggerated the projected number of daily deaths in December if the lockdown was not re-imposed. Downing Street admitted its figure of 1,500 fatalities per day should have read 1,000.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denied the government had used the "scariest" available data to justify the measures when he appeared on Sky News on Sunday.
"We show models which show what could happen if certain scenarios play out," Raab said. "We have corrected the slide you referred to and the wealth of scientific information that comes forward, we are trying to be as transparent as possible."
He said sometimes "mistakes are made or facts have to be changed, but that is the point of transparency."
Lockdown critics have stressed the damage already done to the economy and jobs, the psychological burden of lockdown isolation and a looming health crisis as seriously ill patients miss diagnoses and treatments, along with a rise in marital breakdowns, domestic and child abuse, alcoholism and drug use.
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