MPs have approved the new national lockdown by an overwhelming majority (Picture: Getty Images)
MPs have voted to approve regulations enabling the new national lockdown in England by a majority of 508.
The Commons gave its backing retrospectively after Boris Johnson announced the restrictions should be obeyed on Monday night.
Members overwhelmingly approved the new clampdown after a four hour debate, but the Government has been urged by senior Conservatives to review the rules this month and next.
The Prime Minister announced England’s third national lockdown as hospitals across the country became overwhelmed by surging coronavirus cases, made worse by a new variant which is 50% to 70% more transmissible.
Measures include schools being closed for the majority of pupils and people being told to stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse.
The Government is aiming to have nearly 14million people vaccinated by mid-Februrary, at which point the PM ha said some restrictions could be lifted, however he warned this would be a ‘gradual unwrapping’ and not a ‘big bang’.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock was urged to promise votes in the Commons at the end of January and February so MPs could decide on whether the clampdown should continue.
Tory backbencher and chair of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs Sir Graham Brady called on the Government to give MPs ‘control over what is happening” during the next few weeks.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock responded: ‘While these regulations do provide for new restrictions until the end of March, it is not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then but to allow the steady, controlled and evidence-led move down through the tiers on a local basis.
‘Those tier changes do require a vote in parliament. The restrictions will therefore be kept under continuous review, there’s a statutory requirement to review every two weeks and a legal obligation to remove them if they’re no longer deemed necessary to limit the transmission of the virus.’
Boris Johnson has warned the easing of lockdown will be a ‘gradual unwrapping’ and not a ‘big bang’ (Picture: PA)
Mark Harper, chair of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, said restrictions should be reviewed next month.
He said: ‘I do think that regulations that run all the way to the end of March is too far a distance in the future.
‘It seems to me the obvious checkpoint for government to come back to this House to seek the authority to proceed is the middle of February, when the prime minister set a very clear goal to have vaccinated those four first [priority] groups.’
Despite the overwhelming support, Johnson did face rebellion within his ranks, with Conservative MPs outlining their concerns before the vote.
Former minister Sir Desmond Swayne branded lockdowns a ‘complete failure’ while Sir Robert Syms said the measures were ‘essentially a blank cheque for three months to Public Health England to do what they wish’.
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