In Brief

Boris Johnson battles to quell Tory MPs’ anger after putting 99% of UK into top Covid tiers

Conservative rebels threaten revolt amid demands for more transparency on data and reasoning behind restrictions

Boris Johnson is facing a fresh wave of criticism from his own MPs after announcing that 99% of the population of England will have to continue living under strict coronavirus restrictions when lockdown ends next week.

The vast majority of areas across the country will be placed in either Tier 2 or Tier 3 - in both of which the mixing of households indoors will effectively remain banned. 

Around 32 million people - 57.3% of the population - will fall into Tier 2, while 23.3 million people - 41.5% of the population - will fall into Tier 3. Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles have been deemed safe enough to be in Tier 1.

Amid widespread criticism of the plan, “senior Conservative MPs” are warning that the prime minister will “face a large revolt when the government’s plan is put to a vote in the Commons next week”, the London Evening Standard reports.

The rebels are calling on the government to publish the evidence behind the decisions, along with projections of the impact that they these tightened rules will have on both infection rates and the economy. 

In an apparent bid to quell the growing anger among his MPs, Johnson last night emphasised that the allocation of tiers will be reviewed every 14 days, starting from 16 December. Addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference, he insisted that “your tier is not your destiny” and that “every area has the means of escape”.

But as former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper pointed out in a tweet: “Unfortunately, just after the PM said this, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said Tier 2 would only hold infections level, and Tier 1 would see them go up.

“That rather suggests if you’re in Tier 2, it is your destiny - at least until the spring.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner offered a more blunt assessment, tweeting: “‘Your Tier is not your destiny’. I really wish Boris Johnson would just stop it with this patronising guff.

“My constituents have been in local lockdown since July and you still haven’t explained to them the actual criteria for going into Tier 3 and how we can leave Tier 3.”

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