People have been mourning the death of satire today after self-styled “Brexit hardman” Steve Barker quoted the European Convention on Human Rights as he campaigned against new coronavirus measures.
Baker, who leads the 50-strong Coronavirus Research Group caucus, said he was “reassured” by the planned lifting of limits on retail, sport and religious services and but that it might not be enough to secure the support of his colleagues.
While such a rebellion would be embarrassing for the prime minister, Labour’s support for the government means there is little chance of the measures actually being defeated.
“This is a major infringement on a right to a family life. I’m looking at the European Convention on Human Rights as I speak to you,” the staunch Brexiteer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
RIP Satire: Nov 23rd 2020 https://t.co/wpZx7FnFwn— tom jamieson (@jamiesont) November 23, 2020
Boris Johnson has been facing the threat of a backbench revolt to his plans to move England into a tougher three-tiered system after the lockdown ends.
Dozens of Conservative MPs have said they will not back such a move without extensive evidence.
The Prime Minister has been warned in a letter by the Covid recovery group (CRG), said to be signed by 70 Tory MPs, that he will have to provide a cost-benefit analysis to show the restrictions “will save more lives than they cost”.
But Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sunday suggested providing the evidence they require will be a tall order, paving the way for a significant challenge to get Parliament’s approval for the restrictions.
Winter Covid plan
Mr Johnson will detail his “winter Covid plan” to MPs on Monday, setting out the restrictions to replace the national lockdown on December 2 and how people can spend the festive period.
Downing Street said more areas are expected to enter higher tiers next month and those tiers will be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the four-week lockdown.
It is understood the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be altered.
Mr Sunak said the localised tiered system is a “far better way” to tackle Covid-19 as he confirmed the Prime Minister’s plans, which are expected to be approved by the Cabinet on Sunday.
He warned “Christmas is not going to be normal this year” but said ministers are trying to work out a way for people to see their loved ones over the festive period.
Asked if the Government will provide the analysis the CRG has demanded, the Chancellor told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It’s very hard to be precise in estimating the particular impact of a one-week restriction.”
On Saturday, the CRG warned it “cannot support” a tiered approach unless the Government produces a cost-benefit analysis showing the plans “will save more lives than they cost”.
Health and economic costs
The warning against measures inflicting “huge health and economic costs” came in a letter to the Prime Minister, which sources close to the group said had been signed by 70 Conservative MPs, though the only signatories identified were the group’s leaders, former Brexit minister Baker and ex-chief whip Mark Harper.
The CRG letter said: “We cannot live under such a series of damaging lockdowns and apparently arbitrary restrictions and expect our constituents to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihood.”