Jacob Rees-Mogg today gave the first sign of Cabinet dissent over Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the final stage in his lockdown exit roadmap.
The Commons Leader told the Moggcast podcast published by the Conservative Home website that ‘you can’t run society purely to stop the hospitals being full’.
He said the Government ‘doesn’t have the right to take charge of people’s lives, purely to prevent them seeing the doctor’.
The comments are likely to raise eyebrows in Number 10 as the Prime Minister faces a Tory rebellion from anti-lockdown MPs who have criticised him for pushing back ‘freedom day’ from June 21 to July 19.
Mr Johnson announced last night that the last step in his roadmap will be postponed by four weeks to give the vaccine rollout more time amid fears the mutant ‘Delta’ strain could cause case numbers to sky rocket, potentially overwhelming hospitals.
The PM insisted that July 19 will be the ‘terminus date’ when all remaining restrictions will be lifted and the Government this morning doubled down on that pledge as Michael Gove said he is ‘as confident as confident can be about that date’.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office said the country will need to ‘learn to live with the virus’. Asked if he could promise that the final unlocking will go ahead next month, he replied ‘yes’ and added that only a ‘bizarre and unprecedented’ development in the Covid crisis could derail the plans.
Some Tory MPs are concerned the PM will not stick to the July 19 date if the current situation deteriorates.
Former minister Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs, tweeted: ‘We’ve heard ministers say they’re pretty confident about lifting restrictions before and then do the opposite.’
Asked whether Mr Johnson could allay those Tory fears, the PM’s Official Spokesman said at lunchtime ‘there is not a significant benefit from a further delay beyond the four weeks because of the success of the vaccination programme’.
It came as millions more people in the Midlands and North West of England are being urged not to travel or meet people indoors in an attempt to curb the spread of the Indian Covid variant.
In guidance released last night, roughly аниме порно комикс алиса в стране секса часть 3.6million residents in Birmingham, Liverpool, Warrington and parts of Cheshire were asked to minimise their movements in and out of the affected areas, which are recording higher than average levels of the mutant strain.
The six authorities hit with the new guidance are also being offered a ‘package of support’ from the Government which includes surge testing, enhanced contact tracing and financial support to Covid cases and their contacts who have been asked to self-isolate.
The Army will be sent in to help carry out the extra testing to flush out cases of the virus, while NHS boards in the area will be given extra help to ensure vaccine uptake is as high as possible.
Residents are also being asked to get tested twice a week.
They join the 4m people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire, who were placed under the new rules last week. The enhanced measures cover around 9.3m residents across England, the equivalent of 16 per cent of the entire population.
The spread of the Indian variant — believed to be 60 per cent more infectious than the Kent strain and twice as likely to put unvaccinated people in hospital — has led to No10 pumping the brakes on England’s June 21 Freedom Day.
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the month-long delay would save ‘thousands’ of lives, but this morning prominent SAGE member Professor Graham Medley warned that even with the extra month, Britain could still suffer hundreds of Covid deaths every day.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, today gave the first sign of Cabinet dissent over Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the final stage in his lockdown exit roadmap
Extra support to tackle a rise in cases of the Delta variant, which was first recorded in India, has been announced for more areas of the North West and Birmingham.
The additional support will be introduced in Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said on Monday. The package, which is the same as was announced for Greater Manchester and Lancashire last week, will see more support for surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake after a number of cases of the Delta variant were detected in the areas
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Modelling submitted to SAGE showed how many people could die each day with the rapid spread of the Indian variant.
Warwick University researchers made their estimates (red) based on the assumption that the Indian variant is 56 per cent more transmissible, and that fully vaccinated people are given 90 per cent protection against hospital admission. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers (blue) used similar figures to come to their conclusions.
Dotted lines number one to four show the different dates restrictions were eased
Before the pandemic took hold in Britain last spring, people made contact with around 11 others every day, on average.
But that figure plummetted to around three during the depths of the Covid crisis. The figure currently stands at around 6.5, according to one study called Comix (pictured)
Michael Gove flip-flopped over whether July 19 will definitely see England’s remaining lockdown restrictions scrapped as part of the Government’s newly promised ‘terminus date’ during a confusing interview on ITV this morning (left).
Professor Graham Medley (right), from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a member of SAGE, said Britain could be faced with hundreds of daily Covid deaths despite the delay to the roadmap
One chart presented by chief medic Chris Whitty today showed that hospitalisations have increased 61 per cent in a week in the North West, a trend which was predicted to follow across the rest of the country.
It played a heavy hand in the decision to delay Freedom Day
Boris Johnson (pictured this morning) dramatically delayed England’s final lockdown-easing until July 19, after dire predictions by No10’s top scientific advisers warned the Indian strain could kill up to 500 people in a day had Freedom Day went ahead as planned
Modelling has suggested that the timing of the reopening could make a major difference to the scale of hospital admissions
Analysis by Warwick University modellers showed how daily Covid hospital admissions could hit up to 2,500 a day, if June 21 went ahead.
Scientific estimates also showed how the curve of admissions would peak at just over 1,000 a day if Freedom Day was pushed back to July 19. The team also looked at what would happen if the final unlocking took place on August 23
The Warwick team (left) and LSHTM academics (right) also looked at how many people would get infected every day (top) and how many infected patients would be admitted to hospital (bottom)
In the SPI-M modelling the researchers suggested that if the strain were 80 per cent more transmissible – the upper limit of the team’s estimate – admissions could peak at more than 6,000 per day, higher even than the second wave
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Data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows how the proportion of cases being caused by the Indian ‘Delta’ variant rose during the first half of May, with hotspots (shown in purple) first emerging in the North West, London and central England
The Wellcome data show that, by the end of May, the variant was accounting for almost all cases in almost all parts of the country.
Some areas – those in white – do not have enough data to work out a trend, but by June the strain appeared to have completely taken over England except the Isle of Wight
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In other developments today:
There are no plans to change the furlough scheme, despite the fact employers will have to start making bigger contributions next month; A YouGov poll has found 71 per cent of English adults back delaying the June 21 unlocking, while just 24 per cent are opposed; Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has voiced fury that Mr Johnson is announcing the decision at the Downing Street press briefing instead of to the House, saying he wants a face-to-face meeting with the PM; Extra support to tackle a rise in cases of the Delta variant, which was first recorded in India, has been announced for more areas of the North West and Birmingham; Andrew Lloyd Webber said a delay to the exit roadmap risked bankrupting the entire arts industry;Ministers are pushing ahead with trials for the use of so-called ‘Covid passports’ for big cultural and sporting events, but will not make them compulsory for pubs.<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-416f5d90-cd74-11eb-93f7-3d8612ee637a" website Rees-Mogg gives first sign of Cabinet dissent on lockdown delay