Boris Johnson says the ‘strain is colossal’ on the NHS
The Prime Minister has been told he must set out how long he thinks the toughened coronavirus restrictions will last and what plan he has to lift them. Mr Johnson was warned he would face a leadership challenge if he does not lift the national lockdown soon. Steve Baker, who is deputy chair of the Conservative Party backbench Covid Recovery Group (CRG), has written to MPs to encourage them to make their opinions known to the Government chief whip.
Mr Baker told his colleagues “inevitably the Prime Minister’s leadership will be on the table” unless Mr Johnson outlined a plan to lift lockdown.
This comes after two MPs earlier this month were understood to have submitted letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister after he announced a third national lockdown must be enforced in England to contain a new strain of COVID-19.
But now Britons have reacted furiously to MPs demanding Mr Johnson set out a clear plan to lifting lockdown, with his leadership potentially at threat if he fails to do so.
Commenting on the Express.co.uk story earlier on Thursday, one reader wrote: “These MPs are like turkey’s voting for Christmas. How else are we supposed to stop the spread of this killer virus?
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“Why don’t we all have a free for all and everyone take their chances? I’m sure the virus won’t object.”
A second Express.co.uk reader said: “I think Boris should turn round to these backbenchers and say – ‘If I lift lockdown and the cases and deaths due to the virus increase and the NHS is overwhelmed, will THEY immediately resign from their constituencies and the party?'”
Another person commented: “Baker has the solution? Criticise but don’t contribute an alternative plan.
“That is not going to provide any solution to Covid unless you prescribe wealth before health.”
A fourth reader wrote: “Boris is trying to tread a very difficult path. Nobody could do any better.”
Another added: “Starmer bleating about being tougher, backbench idiots trying it on.
“Name these soothsayers! Stick with it Boris! We are in dangerous times.”
The letter sent by Mr Baker to Tory MPs earlier today read: “I am sorry to have to say this again and as bluntly as this: it is imperative you equip the Chief Whip today with your opinion that debate will become about the PM’s leadership if the Government does not set out a clear plan for when our full freedoms will be restored, with a guarantee that this strategy will not be used again next winter.”
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Seen by The Sun, the note continued: “People are telling me they are losing faith in our Conservative Party leadership because they are not standing up for our values as a party.
“If we continue forward with a strategy that hammers freedom, hammers the private sector, hammers small business owners and hammers the poor, inevitably the Prime Minister’s leadership will be on the table: we strongly do not want that after all we have been through as a country.”
In a message on social media after his note to MPs became public, Mr Baker added: “What this country needs is the complete success of Boris Johnson, with his excellent EU deal, a successful vaccination programme and a road to recovery, back to freedom.
“I am clear Boris is the only person to lead us out of these difficulties and I support him in that endeavour.”
On January 4, Mr Johnson announced the third national lockdown to hit England but has continued to insist he does not want to keep the current restrictions in place any longer than necessary.
At the time, he defended the move, insisting the recent surge in coronavirus infections, fuelled by a more transmissible strain in the virus, had left him with “no choice” but to act.
New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne said he was in “despair” at the Government’s handling of the virus.
Venting at the new lockdown, he told Express.co.uk: “The existing strategy comes at an enormous social and economic cost.
“As we’ve seen, it’s not very effective.”
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