The national lockdown in England starting on Thursday will expire at the end of the four weeks on Dec. 2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, contradicting Michael Gove, the second-most senior minister in the Cabinet.
Speaking to Parliament on Monday, Johnson promised not to extend the national lockdown, which is being enacted to slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“Let me stress that these restrictions are time limited,” he said.
“After four weeks, on Wednesday, Dec. 2, they will expire, and we intend to return to a tiered system on a local and regional basis, according to the latest data and trends.”
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Gove said that the four-week lockdown may be extended if the reinfection rate doesn’t drop as hoped.
Gove said it was the government’s hope that the reinfection rate will have been significantly reduced by Dec. 2.
Twice As Many Deaths In Winter
Johnson said there was “no alternative” but a national lockdown because the reinfection rate is above one in every part of England.
“The virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario,” he said.
Johnson said that, in some hospitals, there are already more patients testing positive for the CCP virus than at the height of the first wave.
In the last week alone, there were 2,000 more patients in hospitals, he said.
“The modelling presented by our scientists suggests that, without action, we could see up to twice as many deaths over the winter as we saw in the first wave,” Johnson said.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said Labour “will provide the votes necessary” on Wednesday so the measure will be passed by Parliament, but he blamed Johnson for acting too late.
“Rejecting the advice of his own scientists for 40 days was a catastrophic failure of leadership and of judgement,” Starmer, who had been calling for “circuit-breaker” lockdown since mid-October, said.
Johnson responded by saying he makes “absolutely no apology” for delaying a national lockdown.
He said England is “moving to national measures when the rate both of deaths and infections, for instance, is lower than they were in France.”
Sammy Wilson from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party called the measures an “announcement of defeat”.
“We’ve surrendered our freedoms, we have surrendered our economy, we have driven people to despair with daily doses of doom-laden data,” he said.
He asked if the government will have a policy other than “a bout of the same destructive medicine” if the virus surges again after the latest lockdown, so the devolved nations and individuals can “run their own lives, and not be ruled by this virus”.
Conservative MP Charles Walker said voting against the measures is “the only legal mechanism left open” for him.
“I will not be supporting the government’s legislation on Wednesday, because as we drift further into an authoritarian coercive state, the only legal mechanism left open to me, is to vote against that legislation,” Walker said.
“If my constituents protest, they get arrested,” he added.
Walker said Britain needed a written constitution “underpinned and enforced by the Supreme Court”, to guarantee the “fundamental rights of our constituents”.
Johnson said he sympathises with people’s frustration, but the priority at the moment is to reduce the infection rate.
Brexit Party leaders said on Monday that they had applied to rename the party ReformUK to challenge Johnson’s lockdown measures to curb the spread of the CCP virus.