Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt over 'dictator' tactics

Boris Johnson faces Tory revolt over ‘dictator’ tactics as backlash grows over his plans for a new coronavirus clampdown

  • Matt Hancock faced a string of hostile questions as  he updated Parliament on the Government’s efforts to tackle the virus pandemic
  •  Sir Graham Brady : ‘The British people are not used to being treated like children.’
  •  Senior Tories questioned whether further national lockdown measures were needed at all, given the huge disparities in case numbers across the country

BORIS Johnson faced a Tory backlash last night over ‘authoritarian’ plans for a new Covid clampdown.

Amid growing signs of unease, Sir Graham Brady – the Tory backbench shop steward – said he would lead a revolt next week against the extension of coronavirus restrictions.

And in the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced a string of hostile questions from his own side as he updated Parliament on the Government’s efforts to tackle the virus pandemic.

Veteran MP Pauline Latham asked Mr Hancock to ‘explain to the Prime Minister that we actually live in a democracy, not a dictatorship’. Sir Edward Leigh urged ministers to drop the ‘authoritarian’ approach and said the Government was looking ‘increasingly incompetent’.

He told Mr Hancock: ‘The trouble with authoritarianism is it is inimicable to civil liberties. It is also increasingly incompetent. It relies on acquiescence and acquiescence for lockdowns is draining away.

You see my point? Boris Johnson chats with Angela Rippon as part of World Alzheimer’s Day yesterday

‘We should rely on encouraging people to look after themselves, protect the vulnerable and take responsibility for our own lives. That is the Conservative way.’ Sir Graham said he would force a vote in the Commons next week which would require ministers to get parliamentary approval for any further lockdown measures.

The chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs said ministers had ‘got into the habit of ruling by decree’, adding: ‘The British people are not used to being treated like children.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced a string of hostile questions f as he updated Parliament on the Government’s efforts to tackle the virus pandemic

Sir Graham said the public deserved to be told the criteria for bringing in – and eventually lifting – what he described as ‘really quite extreme emergency powers’.

He said more scrutiny of the so-called ‘rule of six’ would have enabled MPs to question why the limit was put at six and not eight or ten and why children were included in England and not in Wales or Scotland.

And he questioned whether the lockdown strategy had worked, pointing to the situation in Sweden, where such restrictions were not used. 

Downing Street rejected the suggestion that the Government was ruling by decree. The PM’s spokesman said MPs will have the chance to debate and vote on extending the coronavirus regulations next week.

Some senior Tories questioned whether further national lockdown measures were needed at all, given the huge disparities in case numbers across the country.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: If we lock down the economy it will lead to more health problems and death than Covid causes.’

It came as Mr Johnson met broadcaster Angela Rippon to mark World Alzheimer’s Day, and pledged to support those with dementia during the pandemic.

Miss Rippon became an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society after caring for her mother Edna who had dementia.

Charities have warned of the impact of lockdown and of the virus on sufferers.

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