World, Europe

UK MPs vote for new national lockdown in England

Vote passed by majority of 478, but there were 38 rebels, mostly backbench MPs belonging to ruling Conservative Party

Karim El-Bar   | 04.11.2020
UK MPs vote for new national lockdown in England

By LONDON

British MPs voted in favor of a new national lockdown in England by 516 to 38, a majority of 478.

The lockdown will start on Thursday and last until Dec. 2, when it legally expires and parliament will vote on what replaces it.

The government measure passed easily due to support from the main opposition Labour party, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a not insignificant revolt on his backbenches, with most of the 38 rebels being Conservative MPs voting against their own government.

Johnson said he was “not prepared to take the risk with the lives of the British people,” and that without a fresh lockdown there would be deaths “on a grievous scale” and the National Health Service (NHS) would likely be in “extraordinary trouble” next month.

He told parliament: “Of course I can't say exactly where the epidemiology will be by Dec. 2, but what I can say is that the national measures that I hope the House will vote on tonight, are time-limited.

“It is not that we choose to stop them, they legally expire. So whatever we do from Dec. 2 will require a fresh mandate and a fresh vote from this House.

“And as I have made clear, it is my express intent that we should return to a tiered system on a local and a regional basis according to the latest data and trends.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the new lockdown restrictions were “not in any way desirable or perfect, they are now necessary because the government's lost control of the virus.”

Several senior Conservatives spoke out against the new lockdown in parliament.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor, said: “Jobs lost, livelihoods shattered, businesses failing, whole sectors damaged.”

“The government must have made this analysis, made this assessment: let us see it and make our own judgments,” she said.

Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the lockdown “was not necessary now.”

Meanwhile, government data published on Wednesday showed that a further 25,177 people tested positive for coronavirus across the UK over the past 24 hours, the second highest figure on record, bringing the total to 1,099,059.

A further 492 people died, bringing the total to 47,742.

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