Senior Tories join rebel group to oppose a further national lockdown

Boris Johnson will face sustained pressure from within his own party not to extend the national lockdown next month after senior Tory backbenchers formed a group to resist any such move.

Some 32 Conservatives rebelled against the Government when the Commons approved the second lockdown for England which lasts until December 2.

The Prime Minister said he expects the nation to return to a tiered local system by then and promised MPs a vote for the replacement to the four-week lockdown.

Tory leadership race
Mark Harper (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Former chief whip Mark Harper and ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker will lead the “Covid recovery group” to resist any extension of the measure in the Commons vote.

Mr Harper said: “The cure we’re prescribing runs the risk of being worse than the disease.”

The group outlined three guiding principles calling on ministers to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of restrictions, to end the “monopoly” of advice from Government scientists and to improve measures to tackle Covid-19 such as test and trace.

Pleased to announce the new Covid Recovery Group.

The country is badly in need of a different strategy for living with the virus that doesn’t require us to keep living under a series of damaging lockdowns and arbitrary restrictions #Road2Recoveryhttps://t.co/9AnbSDXU6B

— Mark Harper (@Mark_J_Harper) November 10, 2020

Mr Baker said: “We must find a more sustainable way of leading our lives until a vaccine is rolled out, rather than throwing our prosperity away by shutting down and destroying our economy, and overlooking the untold health consequences caused by lockdowns and restrictions.”

Sir Graham Brady, the influential chair of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, is among those said to have joined the group. So too are William Wragg and Sir Robert Syms.

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