There is growing discontent with the government’s coronavirus restrictions, with MPs signalling that they may withdraw backing at key votes on the regulations this week, amid mounting calls for the government to publish the scientific advice behind the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants in the UK.
Conservative and Labour MPs have indicated they could withdraw backing for implementing the rule of six regulation and the curfew at votes expected later this week.
Tory MPs led by Steve Baker are understood to be meeting this afternoon (Tuesday, October 6) to discuss plans on relaxing two measures which are of particular concern, ending the 10pm hospitality curfew and excluding children from the Rule of Six, as in Scotland where under 12s are exempt. One Conservative MP said a small rebellion was anticipated on the rule of six statutory instrument, a retrospective vote on the implementation of the new measure under existing legislation.
Another vote is expected by MPs to take place tomorrow, Wednesday October 7 on the controversial 10pm curfew, which could attract a more sizeable rebellion given the measure has also been criticised by the Labour frontbench. One source said it was likely to be “a major problem on the government side”.
Mr Baker told the PA news agency: “Consensus among Conservative MPs seems to be around two points – that children should be excluded from the rule of six and that the 10pm curfew is not justified by evidence.
“I wouldn’t expect to win a vote on either issue. The reality is we need to persuade the Government on all these matters.
“With Labour and the SNP missing in action we won’t be defeating the Government in any rebellions.”
Mr Baker said hard negotiations were happening in order to “keep the Conservative Party together”. He added: “The reality is now that we are in to a long hard business of negotiating with the Government trying to keep the Conservative Party together.
“And trying to persuade the Government to have restrictions which don’t do more harm than good.”
However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak cautioned against relaxing rules and signalled that the alternative to the existing restrictions would be even stricter controls.
“The curfew was something we were told by our advisers could well make a difference to the spread of the transmission,” he said in a BBC interview
“In common with many other countries around the world this is thought to be something that can help suppress the spread of the virus.