British lawmakers on Wednesday voted heavily in favour of a second lockdown in England despite opposition from Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party.
In the debate in Parliament before the vote, former Tory Prime Minister Theresa May, who was among 19 Conservatives who abstained, said she didn’t envy the government in the decisions it was facing.
She called for them, however, to publish the analysis that had driven the lockdown measures.
“It appears the decision to go towards this lockdown was partly, mainly, to some extent based on the prediction of 4,000 deaths a day,” May told the Commons.
“Yet if you look at the trajectory showing in that graph that went to 4,000 deaths a day, we would have reached a 1,000 deaths a day by the end of October.”
The average daily deaths in the last week of October was instead 259, she said.
‘Prediction Was Wrong’
“The prediction was wrong before it was even used,” May said. “For many people, it looks as if the figures are chosen to support the policy rather than the policy being based on the figures.”
She also said that evidence showed CCP virus cases were falling across all ages in some areas under local lockdowns, and that there hadn’t been enough analysis of the effectiveness of the current three-tier measures.
There also hadn’t been enough analysis of the broader costs of lockdown measures, such as the impact on other health conditions, suicides, and mental health, as well as to the economy, she added.
“The government must have made this analysis. They must have made this assessment. Let us see it and make our own judgements,” she said.
Labour opposition leader Kier Starmer criticised the timing of the new government measures.
He said it would have instead been better to have had a shorter “circuit break” lockdown around the recent school half-term.
Considering the need for a new national lockdown, he cast doubt on the effectiveness of the three-tier system that has been in place and that will resume after the new 28-day measures end. He urged the government to fix the contact tracing system during the next 4 weeks.
He told MPs that though the government had “lost control of the virus”, Labour would support them and would vote in favour of the measures—190 Labour MPs did follow through on that pledge.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith was among 32 Tories who voted against the measures.
In the Commons debate, he echoed May’s sentiments, saying that he feels for the government and wants them to succeed.
But, like May, he opposed the decision to “lockdown an economy which plunges individuals and people, businesses, into a terrible state of lost jobs”.
He also agreed that the government’s decision was driven by data from government advisers SAGE that had turned out to be incorrect, citing data from epidemiologist Tim Spector of King’s College London that had shown the R rate, or transmission rate, is 1 and that the three-tier system is beginning to work.
He said an appalling premature leak of the SAGE data had “bounced” the government into a decision based on that data, which has “subsequently unravelled in the last few days”.
The new measures restrict all but essential shopping in England, ban social mixing of households even with more than one person from another household outdoors, and will shut down pubs, restaurants, leisure centres, and gyms. Schools and colleges will remain open.
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.