Boris Johnson warns winter Covid deaths could be 'twice as bad' as spring

1 November 2020, 22:30 | Updated: 2 November 2020, 17:24

Boris Johnson will give a stark warning to MPs on Monday
Boris Johnson will give a stark warning to MPs on Monday. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

There is “no alternative” but to enter a second national lockdown in England because coronavirus deaths in the second wave could be more than double the first, Boris Johnson will warn MPs this afternoon.

The Prime Minister is set to use a statement to the Commons at 3.30pm to defend imposing a four-week shutdown from Thursday as a Tory rebellion over the draconian measures grows.

Mr Johnson will seek to justify his decision to first impose localised restrictions, despite calls from scientists and Labour several weeks ago which went ignored for a national “circuit-breaker” to stem the rising number of cases.

He is expected to say it was “right to try every possible option” before imposing stringent national restrictions, which will come into force on Thursday.

The Prime Minister will tell MPs: “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.

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“I know some in the House believe we should have reached this decision earlier, but I believe it was right to try every possible option to get this virus under control at a local level, with strong local action and strong local leadership.”

The current UK Covid-19 death toll within 28 days of a positive test is 46,717, after a further 162 were recorded as of Sunday.

Mr Johnson will say the Government will “seek to ease restrictions” on 2 December as planned, so not ruling out an extension after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the lockdown could run for longer.

He is set to say: “At the end of four weeks, on Wednesday 2nd December, we will seek to ease restrictions, going back into the tiered system on a local and regional basis according to the latest data and trends.”

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Government’s Sage advisory group, told LBC the UK’s second wave was “unlikely to be completely controlled” by the start of December.

Read more: What you can and can't do under England lockdown rules

Read more: Covid outbreak 'unlikely to be completely controlled' by December, SAGE member says

It comes as a Tory rebellion over the new lockdown gathers pace ahead of the restrictions being put to a Commons vote on Wednesday.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbenchers, warned more than 80 Tory MPs could revolt against the new shutdown - mirroring the rebellion over sweeping Coronavirus Act powers last month.

Pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops will shut along with the entertainment and leisure sectors. Schools, colleges, universities and industries that cannot work from home can stay open.

The public “must stay at home” from Thursday, Boris Johnson said, but exercise, trips to supermarkets and for other essential reasons such as work and education are permitted.

Sir Desmond Swayne hit out at a second national lockdown on Sunday and revealed he would not vote with Government on the notion.

“Lockdowns have one proven effect and that's to make poor people poorer, a lot poorer,” he told LBC’s Andrew Castle, warning that locking the entire nation down will have a detrimental impact.

Tory former Cabinet minister Esther McVey has said she will vote against the new lockdown measures. In a post on Instagram, she said: “I will be voting against the new national lockdown on Wednesday when it comes before the House of Commons.

“The ‘lockdown cure’ is causing more harm than Covid.

“The world cannot be put on hold, and the Government must stop pressing the pause and stop button for the whole nation on a whim, with all the disastrous effects this brings to our lives, livelihoods, health and relationships.”

Conservative former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the announcement of another lockdown was a “body blow” to the British people.

The Prime Minister was forced to announce the new lockdown at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street on Saturday night after details were leaked to newspapers.

An inquiry to find the “culprit” of the leak has been launched by Mr Johnson, who is said to have intended to make the announcement before Parliament on Monday.