MPs demand parliament is recalled to vote on cancelling Christmas

MPs are demanding parliament is recalled to vote on cancelling Christmas after they were promised a say on any new measures.

On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tighter coronavirus controls on millions of people in England and drastically scaled back plans to ease restrictions over Christmas.

The cancellation of plans and introduction of a new Tier 4 seeks to curb a new more infectious strain of the virus, Johnson explained during a press briefing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, December 19, 2020, where he announced plans to relax

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, December 19, 2020, where he announced plans to relax

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, December 19, 2020, where he announced plans to relax 

Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs which has been highly critical of the Government’s strategy, called for Parliament be recalled so MPs could debate and vote on the changes. 

‘Given the 3 tier system and the initial Christmas household rules were expressly authorised by the House of Commons, these changes must also be put to a vote in the Commons at the earliest opportunity, even if that means a recall of the House,’ he said.

Mr Harper called the announcement a ‘very sad day’, saying that the system of tiered restrictions had ‘failed in their goal of slowing the transmission of Covid.’ 

‘Government is expecting people to sacrifice the chance to share Christmas with family, friends and loved ones, just a few days after promising the opposite,’ he continued.

‘If the Government wants the support of the public and Parliament, it must publish a clear exit strategy from this nightmarish, cycle of damaging lockdowns and restrictions.’

The number of cases in England has soared in the last two weeks because of a variant of the virus that scientists said is up to 70% more transmissible. Johnson said the government had to take urgent action.

‘It is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,’ Johnson told a news conference. ‘I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me.’

London and southeast England – about a third of the English population – are currently in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules but will now be placed in a new Tier 4 level.

MP Mark Harper (pictured) said it was a 'very sad day', saying that the system of tiered restrictions had 'failed in their goal of slowing the transmission of Covid'

MP Mark Harper (pictured) said it was a 'very sad day', saying that the system of tiered restrictions had 'failed in their goal of slowing the transmission of Covid'

MP Mark Harper (pictured) said it was a ‘very sad day’, saying that the system of tiered restrictions had ‘failed in their goal of slowing the transmission of Covid’

What are the new Tier 4 rules? 

The Tier 4 rules will be essentially the same as the blanket lockdown that England was under in November. 

Non-essential retail must close, as well as leisure facilities, and personal care such as hairdressers. 

However, places of worship can stay open. 

People in other Tiers will be advised not to go into the highest bracket areas, while residents of Tier 4 must not stay overnight in lower infection spots. 

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People in that tier will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons such as work, and non-essential retail will close, as will indoor leisure and entertainment. Social mixing will be limited to meeting one other person in an outdoor space.

Johnson had said on Friday he hoped England would not need a third lockdown after Christmas.

He had also resisted calls to change plans to ease restrictions for five days over the festive period and allow three separate households to meet indoors. He said on Wednesday it would be ‘frankly inhuman’ to ban Christmas.

However, those now in Tier 4 will not be allowed to mix with others over Christmas. And all others will now only be allowed to see friends and family for one day.

The new rules will come into effect from Saturday night at midnight.

Like other countries in Europe, Britain is battling to contain the virus. Johnson’s action comes after concern about a surge in cases, sparked by the new infectious strain of the virus – VUI202012/01.

It is the rate of infection that is worrying the government and its advisors.

Johnson's action comes after concern about a surge in cases, sparked by the new infectious strain of the virus - VUI202012/01. Pictured: Shoppers inside a Christmas-themed Burlington Arcade in London

Johnson's action comes after concern about a surge in cases, sparked by the new infectious strain of the virus - VUI202012/01. Pictured: Shoppers inside a Christmas-themed Burlington Arcade in London

Johnson’s action comes after concern about a surge in cases, sparked by the new infectious strain of the virus – VUI202012/01. Pictured: Shoppers inside a Christmas-themed Burlington Arcade in London

‘There’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,’ Johnson said. ‘Equally, there’s no evidence to suggest the vaccine will be any less effective against the new variant.’

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said authorities had alerted the World Health Organization and were continuing to analyse the available data to improve their understanding of the new strain.

Britain reported 27,052 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 534 deaths. The reproduction ‘R’ number is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2, meaning the number of cases is rapidly increasing.

‘Failing to act decisively now, will mean further suffering,’ Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said on Twitter.

Britain has been one of the worst hit European countries – with more than 67,000 deaths linked to coronavirus and more than 2 million cases reported.

Fury at Boris’s last-minute Christmas U-turn as Britons say they’ll IGNORE the new rules and complain it’s ‘just in time for everyone to have spent money on presents, food and booze’ 

Britons have been left furious by Boris Johnson‘s cancellation of Christmas for millions in London and the South East with just a few days’ notice.  

The PM held an emergency press conference this afternoon in which he shifted swathes of the home counties, including London, up to a new ‘Tier 4’. 

That bracket includes closing non-essential shops and travel restrictions including ‘stay at home’ order for Christmas Day itself, even though Mr Johnson insisted just days ago that five-day festive ‘bubbles’ would go ahead.

The extraordinary U-turn has caused outrage among families that have already made plans, booked travel and bought food for reunions, with many taking to social media to vent their fury.

One devastated user said: 'I'm sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days. I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is.'

One devastated user said: 'I'm sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days. I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is.'

One devastated user said: ‘I’m sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days. I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is.’

A defiant tweeter said: 'Already made plans and spent money to visit family, not gonna stay home alone for Christmas on 4 days notice.'

A defiant tweeter said: 'Already made plans and spent money to visit family, not gonna stay home alone for Christmas on 4 days notice.'

A defiant tweeter said: ‘Already made plans and spent money to visit family, not gonna stay home alone for Christmas on 4 days notice.’

Another added: 'If you lock us all over over Christmas - meaning families who have spent hundreds of pounds preparing to see loved ones - then you have proven what an utterly incompetent leader you and your cabinet are. Shame on you.'

Another added: 'If you lock us all over over Christmas - meaning families who have spent hundreds of pounds preparing to see loved ones - then you have proven what an utterly incompetent leader you and your cabinet are. Shame on you.'

Another added: ‘If you lock us all over over Christmas – meaning families who have spent hundreds of pounds preparing to see loved ones – then you have proven what an utterly incompetent leader you and your cabinet are. Shame on you.’

A fourth said: 'Strangely just in time for everyone to have spent on presents for their bubbles, food and booze orders.'

A fourth said: 'Strangely just in time for everyone to have spent on presents for their bubbles, food and booze orders.'

A fourth said: ‘Strangely just in time for everyone to have spent on presents for their bubbles, food and booze orders.’

One devastated user said: ‘I’m sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days. I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is.’ 

A defiant tweeter said: ‘Already made plans and spent money to visit family, not gonna stay home alone for Christmas on 4 days notice.’

Another added: ‘If you lock us all over over Christmas – meaning families who have spent hundreds of pounds preparing to see loved ones – then you have proven what an utterly incompetent leader you and your cabinet are. Shame on you.’

A fourth said: ‘Strangely just in time for everyone to have spent on presents for their bubbles, food and booze orders.’

Another said: ‘After job loss, emergency international move, illness, breakdown, and everything else, I just desperately needed something to look forward to. Honeymoon fitted the bill, but was cancelled three times. Christmas was the next best thing. I spent weeks working on menus, precautions.’ 

Others tried to see the funny side by sharing memes, including one depicting the Prime Minister’s latest U-turn and another comparing him going round in circles to Will Ferrell’s character in the Christmas film, Elf. 

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