Tory MP Steve Baker: PM should 'look at data' and bring forward route out of lockdown

24 March 2021, 10:09 | Updated: 24 March 2021, 15:35

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Tory MP Steve Baker today told LBC he will be rebelling against the Government over plans to extend "absolutely draconian" Covid lockdown powers.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister faces a showdown with Tory rebels who are against plans to extend emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act for another six months.

MPs are set to vote on Thursday on whether or not to extend the powers and if approved, it would take them beyond the June 21 date earmarked in the Government's road map for all restrictions in England ending.

Conservative MP Steve Baker spoke to LBC's Nick Ferrari where he said he will be voting against the Government.

Mr Baker said he wants hospitality to reopen by Easter and that once all of the top nine groups have been vaccinated there is "no case" for legislative restrictions to continue once "we get into May."

"At the moment, it looks like the data is better than anyone's best estimates, so I do think the Prime Minister, should be willing, in following the data, to bring the plan forwards."

Mr Baker, who is also the Deputy Chair of the Covid Recovery Group, told Nick he didn't think the Prime Minister's plans were in much danger though.

He said he would vote against the renewal of the Coronavirus Act as it has a "100% unlawful prosecution rate on absolutely draconian powers."

Telling LBC the Government no longer needs the powers to force a lockdown Mr Baker said the furlough scheme would "go on anyway" because the power it relies on is permanent.

Hitting out at the Labour Party, Mr Baker said they would provide "no resistance whatsoever and barely any scrutiny."

Predicting "many" Tory MPs would vote with him Mr Baker said he didn't think Boris Johnson was in any "great danger" but felt "some of us do need to make a point."

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith on Sunday called for the economy to be opened up again and for government scientists to follow data, not dates to get the country back up and running.

Sir Iain was asked during an appearance on Swarbrick on Sunday on LBC whether some types of behaviour, like protesting, might be criminalised for longer than was necessary due to government plans to keep lockdown powers in place for another six months.

Sir Iain said: "We're getting mixed messages from the scientists, I must say.

"They said originally that they would be led by the data, not the dates. The problem is now it appears they are being led by the dates, not the data.

"It's very clear that everything is going to plan with regards to the vaccines, and the protection of the UK public, the figures are falling. Dramatically."

Restrictions against protests in England are already among a raft of measures that will be lifted from next Monday in a move that has been branded a government "U-turn".

From 29 March, demonstrations will once again become an exception to the rule that bans group gatherings.

Protests will be given the green light under the laws if they are organised by a business, the public, a political body or other groups and so long as "required precautions" are taken.

These are likely to include measures such as ensuring people wear face masks and maintain their social distance. However, there will be no limitations on the number of people free to attend such events.