PM warns deaths will be ‘twice as bad’ as spring while Farage rebrands as anti-lockdowner

Downing Street Health and Education Westminster

The prime minister will warn MPs that Covid-19 deaths could be “twice as bad” this winter compared to the first wave of the virus in spring.

Boris Johnson’s Commons statement today (Monday, 3.30pm) will see the PM say there is “no alternative” to the four-week lockdown being introduced in England on Thursday.

Labour leader Keir Starmer memorably called for a two-week circuit breaker more than two weeks ago – timed to coincide with school half term holidays. Johnson dismissed the plea, labelling it “absurd” but is now scrambling to maintain his authority after another major u-turn was announced on Saturday.

Scores of Tory MPs are angered by the new measures, more so given they learned out about the lockdown through a leak to newspapers which rushed forward the PM’s announcement. The prime minister cancelled his speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today to instead spend the morning trying to convince growing numbers of backbench Conservative MPs opposed to a second national lockdown.

‘A form of evil’ – says 1922 Committee leader

The 1922 Committee’s leader Sir Graham Brady, last night told the Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4 the new restrictions would be denounced as a “form of evil” if they were announced by an authoritarian regime.

Johnson’s leadership and competence will be further questioned should be unable to convince his own members and have to rely on Labour in the Commons. Starmer has been highly critical of the government’s inaction and the performance of the PM, but the party said they support the new lockdown.

In this afternoon’s speech Johnson will state his government was “right to try every possible option” to contain the virus before deciding on the second lockdown announced on Saturday.

The BBC reports Johnson is expected to say: “Models of our scientists suggest that unless we act now, we could see deaths over the winter that are twice as bad or more compared with the first wave.

“Faced with these latest figures, there is no alternative but to take further action at a national level.”

Farage rebrands party

Meanwhile,  Nigel Farage is to rebrand the Brexit party as Reform UK citing the government’s “woeful” handling of the pandemic as a clarion call to supporters.

Farage and his deputy Richard Tice are advocates of the Great Barrington Declaration and in an email told their supporters: “The new national lockdown will result in more life-years lost than it hopes to save, as non-Covid patients with cancer, cardiac, lung and other illnesses have treatments delayed or cancelled again. Suicides are soaring. Businesses and jobs are being destroyed.”

Welsh escape for England concerns Drakeford

Elsewhere, Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales has ruled out extending the 17-day circuit breaker and during a press conference today assured “our firebreak will end as planned and as promised on Monday 9 November.”

That is only days after England goes into a four week lockdown and Drakeford said: “It is really important that as we open up, Wales doesn’t become an escape” for people travelling from England.

Earlier this month Drakeford imposed a border-ban on UK citizens travelling to Wales from Covid-hotspots in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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