Rebellion among Conservative MPs not enough to stop ‘tier system’ lockdown in England
WESTMINSTER, England, December 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A rebellion within Britain’s ruling Conservative Party was not enough to stop the new “tier system” lockdown from going into effect today.
The new system, which plunges most of England — approximately 55 million people — into “High Alert” or “Very High Alert” restrictions, came into effect at 12:01 AM today after yesterday’s vote. Only 291 of 650 Members of Parliament – far less than half – voted for the new three-tier system; 78 voted against it.
55 Conservative MPs (of 364) rebelled against their party leader, Boris Johnson, by voting against it. The Labour Party asked its members to abstain, but 18 of them voted against the system anyway. 2 of 5 Independents also voted against it, as did all 8 MPs from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. The Scottish National Party (SNP) abstained.
According to the Daily Express, the Conservative government’s plan “was always likely to pass” as the Labour Party and the SNP had indicated they were going to abstain from the vote.
The rebellion among the Conservative MPs was the largest since Johnson succeeded Theresa May as party leader and prime minister. It followed a call by bestselling author and lockdown sceptic Peter Hitchens to likeminded Britons to contact their MPs and ask them to vote against the measure. Martin Vickers, one of the Tory rebels, is distinguished as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Shannon of the DUP are also members of the group.
Lockdown Sceptics, a coronavirus news aggregator edited by Conservative journalist Toby Young, congratulated the constituents who had successfully convinced their MPs to vote against the three-tier system. The website also published comments by Conservative MPs who indicated that they would vote against the measure.
MP David Davis echoed those who think lockdowns restricting broad areas are unfair.
“Restrictions on much smaller areas work better, they are fairer, and they cause much less economic damage,” he stated. “The Government’s proposed tier system does not deliver this. I will therefore be voting against the government this evening.”
MP Steve Baker said that the government had failed to make a convincing case for the new measures.
“This is a dangerous moment in the life of our country,” he explained. “People feel they have been pushed too far and suffered too much. Government’s analysis should have compared its own approach with alternative approaches — to show the costs & benefits.”
MP Sir Graham Brady objected both to the lack of proof that the new measure would help more than harm and to the shunting of his constituency into the highly restrictive “Very High Alert” Tier 3.
“Tonight I am voting against new Coronavirus tier restrictions,” said the Manchester-area MP. “In the absence of a cost benefit analysis of lockdown, clarity about Trafford’s allocation to — and exit from — Tier 3 and sufficient justification for removal of fundamental freedoms, I have no choice but to oppose.”
Sir Graham also made remarks in the House about the importance of freedom.
“Freedom, Madam Deputy Speaker, is not an absolute, but it should be regarded as precious, and there should always be the … strongest possible presumption in its favor,” he said.
“If Government is to take away the fundamental liberties of the people whom we represent, they must demonstrate beyond question that they are acting in a way that is both proportionate and absolutely necessary,” he continued. “Today … I believe the Government has failed to make that compelling case.”
An English Catholic lawyer, James Bogle, told LifeSiteNews that the attack on freedom in England is “unprecedented.”
“Basic freedoms and rights have been rendered a nullity on an unprecedented scale by the extreme measures that the government is taking to combat the coronavirus,” said Bogle, a barrister (trial attorney) of the Middle Temple, London, via social media.
Bogle said he tended to agree with Lord Sumption, a retired U.K. Supreme Court Justice, when he said that the state is using coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted and without real justification.
He added: “This is the most serious interference with personal freedom that any of us have ever seen.”
“The re-classification of many deaths as Covid deaths when something else is the cause of death is particularly troubling and has tended to lead to an atmosphere of panic and fear which, in turn, can lead to the suppression of fundamental freedoms.”
Tier 3 forbids meeting with anyone who is neither in a person’s household nor “support bubble,” indoors or in most outdoor places, including back yards. However, Tier 3 residents may form a group of up to 6 people in large outdoor places like parks or beaches. All bars, cafes and restaurants are forbidden from table service and must operate on a takeout or delivery basis. Hotels are not allowed to accept holiday guests although they can accept people traveling for work. Indoor entertainments like cinemas, and indoor buildings at outdoor attractions, like aquariums in zoos, must close. Spectator sports may not have public spectators in these areas, although sports facilities may stay open.
Churches and other places of worship are allowed to open in all tiers. 15 people are allowed to attend weddings, but wedding receptions are banned in Tier 3. 30 people are allowed to attend funerals. In Tier 3, organized sports can take place outdoors but not indoors. Travel from a Tier 3 area into another area should be avoided.
The rules are less restrictive in Tier 2 and Tier 1 areas, although residents in Tier 2 areas are asked to behave in visits to Tier 1 areas as if they were in Tier 2. Tier 1, which included only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Scilly, is considered on “Medium Alert”. Tier 2 includes London, Liverpool, York, and much of the South West and South East. Tier 3 includes Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Slough, and much of the North East and North West.
The tiers will be reviewed on December 16.