The rebel MPs complained that every time the country nears freedom ‘you hear the scraping of shovels and the goalposts are lifted up and moved’.
In an address this evening, the PM is expected to confirm a delay of a month on the initial plan for ‘Freedom Day’, originally set for June 21.
The extraordinary backlash came as business leaders warned hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk with the economy facing a two per cent hit. Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs, last night expressed concern that lockdown could be extended until at least the end of September if ministers attempt to wait until the whole population has been double-jabbed.
He said: ‘We have a rapid rollout of effective vaccines and are heading into summer. If, even at this point, the Government won’t release restrictions, this points to restrictions in the autumn and winter, when respiratory diseases increase and the NHS is always under more pressure.
Furious Tory backbenchers last night voiced fears that ‘we will never get out of this Orwellian nightmare’ as Boris Johnson prepared to announce a delay to the end of lockdown
‘This would be devastating for business confidence, people’s livelihoods and wellbeing.’
Tory backbencher Marcus Fysh warned that the PM and senior ministers ‘have completely lost their way’, as he insisted ‘there is no need to panic’ about the rise in infections.
The MP for Yeovil said: ‘If we are still in a no man’s land wondering about coronavirus through the summer months then you can see how there would be calls to lock down into the autumn, and then lock down in winter and spring. We need to make a stand now and say it is not acceptable.’
Mr Fysh said the Government has ‘lost credibility’ by repeatedly extending restrictions, adding: ‘It would not surprise me at all if people just ignore them. I think it would be completely understandable if they did.’
Richard Drax, the Tory MP for South Dorset, accused ministers of going back on their ‘initial promise that once all the vulnerable were vaccinated, we would be free’.
Mark Harper (left) expressed concern that lockdown could be extended until at least the end of September while Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh (right) warned that the PM and senior ministers ‘have completely lost their way’
Richard Drax (left) accused ministers of going back on their ‘initial promise that once all the vulnerable were vaccinated, we would be free’ and Craig Mackinlay (right) voiced concern that the country is ‘going to end up in a perpetual circle of lockdowns’
He said: ‘Every time I hope for freedom, you hear the scraping of shovels and the goalposts are lifted up and moved two feet to the right. This is no longer acceptable.
‘Common sense and pragmatism is needed now, not more Project Fear, which frankly I have had enough of. We cannot go on destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.
‘If it is a two-week delay now, in two weeks’ time it will be another two weeks, and another two weeks, and another two weeks and we will never get out of this Orwellian nightmare.’
Tory Craig Mackinlay voiced concern that the country is ‘going to end up in a perpetual circle of lockdowns’, adding: ‘It is time to say enough.’ The MP for South Thanet in Kent said: ‘If we delay each time there is a variant, we are never going to unlock because you can be sure next month there will a Californian Type-2 variant, or the month after a Thailand via South Africa variant. These things are never going to stop.’
The regulations underpinning the roadmap are due to expire on June 30, meaning the Government will need a Commons vote to extend them past that date (stock image)
Boris Johnson is expected to lift the limit of 30 people for weddings and permit more outdoor seated spaces at sporting events
The regulations underpinning the roadmap are due to expire on June 30, meaning the Government will need a Commons vote to extend them past that date.
But despite the anger on the Tory backbenches, CRG deputy chairman Steve Baker last night conceded that the rebels are powerless to block them as Mr Johnson will win by a ‘huge margin’ thank to Labour’s support.
The Institute for Economic Affairs yesterday estimated the cost of postponing the end of lockdown could amount to £1billion a week.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK – but only once it is given permission to trade freely.’
Douglas McWilliams, deputy chairman for the Centre for Economics and Business Research, warned the ‘danger’ of uncertainty would hit firms.
He said: ‘Businesses have spent hundreds of millions of pounds preparing to reopen and now a lot of that expenditure could be wasted.’
We cannot allow our country to become a draconian dystopia
Commentary by Dr Renee Hoenderkamp
The expected delay to the end of lockdown restrictions doesn’t just mean another month of compulsory masks and social distancing, the suspension of international travel and prolonged agony for the arts and hospitality sectors.
There is, I believe, now a very real danger that these infringements on ordinary, everyday life will continue not only the rest of the year but until next spring at least.
When mid-July is here, the cheerleaders for lockdown will be pointing to the expected autumn surge in Covid cases.
They will warn us that a few summer weeks of looser freedoms will lead to renewed viral outbreaks and will eventually trigger another full national shutdown.
And because half the summer will already have be gone by then and we will all have given up on any hope of weddings, parties and festivals, the nation will collectively bow its head and succumb.
Already, we are so cowed and docile that no one is asking the obvious questions such as what is the point of these restrictions currently? Are they serving any positive purpose at all?
As a GP, I do not accept that there is any valid medical reason for carrying on with any level of lockdown that overrides the multiple compelling reasons for getting back to normal.
When rules were first imposed on social distancing and limiting indoor gatherings to just six people, the vaccine did not exist.
Whitehall’s aim was to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by Covid.
Today, when half the population has already had both vaccine doses, there should be no danger that our hospitals will be unable to cope with the virus, even given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant (stock image)
Today, when half the population has already had both vaccine doses, there should be no danger that our hospitals will be unable to cope with the virus, even given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant.
But the NHS is being overwhelmed by the effects of lockdown itself. There are now a record-breaking 5.1million people on waiting lists – the worst situation in the 73-year history of the health service.
Every day I see patients in desperate need of hip and knee operations. When they ask me how long they might have to wait, I have to look them in the eye and say: ‘It could be years.’
And the medical repercussions of waiting two to three years for a joint replacement are serious and sometimes life-changing. Many such patients are in agony. They become depressed.
These patients might self-medicate with alcohol or painkillers. And unable to exercise, they will put on weight.
All this puts strain on other parts of their body.
It can lead to heart, liver and kidney disease along with other serious illnesses. And yet their primary problem is something that is easy to alleviate through routine surgery.
And what about those with life-threatening diseases, including heart disease and cancer, who have had screening or treatment delayed?
Or those who have yet to be diagnosed because of soaring waiting lists? And it is not only older people who are suffering. As full lockdown eased in April, A&E departments in hospitals across the country saw a 30 per cent increase in admissions for serious mental health problems, including self-harming and suicide attempts.
In my surgery I’ve seen an increase in mental health problems across all age groups.
Early data shows this is caused not by Covid itself but by the measures imposed by governments that were supposed to protect our health, not harm it.
In Germany, the findings of a study of 1,500 schoolchildren has suggested a high incidence of depression. Some of them had suffered Covid-19, some hadn’t – it made no difference.
What had impacted the children even more was the shock and upheaval of the past 15 months.
I don’t think the Government’s advisers have grasped this. Ironically, while ordering us all to shield from Covid, they have been shielded from the effects of their own policies.
They have not seen their own livelihoods wiped out nor lost their careers. They have been able to keep working and therefore they have avoided the effects of isolation and despair.
The virus will continue to mutate and infect, but the vaccines should mitigate the seriousness of disease
Buoyed by the obedience of a patient public, they have now forgotten that their immediate priority was to safe-guard the NHS. But now, in their determination to wipe out Covid, they are damaging the very institution they set out to protect – not to mention the millions of people who rely on the health service. The grim fact is that Covid cannot be completely extinguished. ‘Zero Covid’ is a fantasy.
The virus will continue to mutate and infect, but the vaccines should mitigate the seriousness of disease.
For a small percentage of cases, usually those with underlying health conditions such as renal failure and immune disorders, Covid will continue to cause serious infections even when patients have received both doses.
The Government needs to identify those at risk and help them to shield themselves, if that is what the vulnerable individuals want.
While the rest of us are at a different sort of risk, from lockdown itself.
We cannot allow this appalling and undemocratic travesty to continue and stand by as our country slides into a sort of draconian dystopia.
We must demand our NHS returns to full power. We must demand an end to the economic catastrophe and its devastating consequences. We must demand our freedoms back.
- Renee Hoenderkamp is an NHS GP
Experts queue up to warn of third wave risk
By Kate Pickles, Health Correspondent for the Daily Mail
Scientists came out in force yesterday to warn that full unlocking would ‘fan the flames’ of rising Covid infections, heaping pressure on the Prime Minister to delay the easing of lockdown.
Government advisers are uncertain how severe a third wave would be but warned that cases are close to spiralling out of control.
The doubling time of infections of around a week means the country is ‘only three or four times away’ from the overwhelming case numbers seen over winter, many warned.
And even with almost eight in ten adults now having had at least one dose of the jab, experts said it was becoming clear that both doses will be needed to offer the best protection from the Indian/Delta variant. Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), described the 60 per cent increased transmissibility of the variant as ‘extremely worrying’ as it could see infections reach January levels by the end of July.
‘I think it’s clear we will have a substantial third wave of infections, the really big question is how much that wave of infections is going to translate into hospitalisations,’ he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. He said ministers should not ‘put their foot on the accelerator’ but ‘slow down.’ This will give more time to get people double vaccinated, he said, with figures showing 55.6 per cent of adults have had their second dose.
Public Health England data showed the number of confirmed cases of the strain has increased in a week from 12,431 to 42,323, with it now accounting for 90 per cent of all Covid cases. It came as the UK recorded another 7,490 daily Covid cases and eight more deaths, slightly down on the previous day’s 7,738 and 12 deaths.
Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), which advises the Government, said he expected the Prime Minister to announce an extension of restrictions. He said officials should be wary of ‘going backwards’ as cases continued to increase. He said: ‘We don’t know how many people are going to get seriously ill. There’s still a lot of damage that can be done, therefore it makes good sense to pause.’
Hospital leaders have expressed worries rises in cases will have a knock-on effect to the 5.1 million people on waiting lists. Dr Raghib Ali, senior clinical research associate at the University of Cambridge’s MRC epidemiology unit, said waiting times had already seen a rise in patients attending A&E because of the backlog of patients that didn’t come in during the previous waves. He told Sky News: ‘I expect the Prime Minister to say that unfortunately a delay is needed to make sure that we don’t get to the situation again where the NHS is unable to provide care to all its patients.’
Independent SAGE’s Anthony Costello, of University College London, told The Mirror that cases could reach 100,000 a day in a month and warned the NHS will be overloaded if ‘the Government takes a gamble’.
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