Rees-Mogg: Setting a date for the lifting of restrictions would be tempting fate

Putting a date on when Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted is “tempting fate”, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

The Prime Minister has indicated that by the middle of February he wants everyone in the “top four priority groups” to have been offered the first dose of a Covid-19 jab.

Conservative MP Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) called for some “good news” from the Government with a timetable for the lifting of restrictions as vaccines are rolled out.

She said: “I’m very concerned that even when we’re vaccinated, we are not going to be allowed to visit other vaccinated people.

“And I think that the country needs to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Responding during business questions, Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons: “There was good news in the papers today indicating that a study shows that people who have Covid also maintain an immunity and the report I read said that this lasted for at least five months but that was the extent of the study – so that’s not a maximum that is very much a minimum.

“So there is some good news with the rollout of the vaccine and that sort of information.

“It’s really a matter of achieving critical mass and having enough people vaccinated at which point life will change and we will get (back to) normal which is something we all welcome.

“But the lesson of the last few months is that putting a date on things is tempting fate.”

Mr Rees-Mogg earlier defended Boris Johnson after the Prime Minister’s seven-mile bicycle ride.

Raising the issue, shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: “It seems that the Prime Minister doesn’t take his own advice to stay local, exercise locally.

“I don’t know if it was the letters from the backbenchers that said what a terrible Prime Minister he was. They must have said ‘on your bike’ and he actually took it literally.”

Mr Rees-Mogg responded: “As regards the Prime Minister’s exercise, he was clearly exercising reasonably within all the rules, both the spirit of the rules and the letter of the rules.

“I think this sort of game of trying to pick holes in what people are doing when they’re obeying the rules is undignified.

“And I think there is clarity in the rules. I think people know what they’re supposed to do, and people are allowed to exercise and they are allowed to at the moment meet one person whilst they’re exercising – these rules are absolutely clear.”