Tory MP calls on government to outline plan for next six months after second lockdown announcement

George Martin
·3 min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on October 31, 2020 to announce new lockdown restrictions in an effort to curb rising infections of the novel coronavirus. - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced a new four-week coronavirus lockdown across England, a dramatic strategy shift following warnings hospitals would become overwhelmed under his current system of localised restrictions. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson announced a second lockdown on Saturday. (Getty)

A Tory MP has called on the government to outline its plans for the next six months following the announcement of a second lockdown on Saturday.

Tobias Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, said on Sunday that a long-term strategy needed to be developed by Boris Johnson until a coronavirus vaccine can be found.

"People need to know where they stand, where they are going to,” he told Times Radio.

“We have probably about six months till the spring. A vaccine then emerges. How are we going to get through this difficult winter? We need to have some rules which are ongoing... right the way up until the vaccine is there."

Conservative Party Tobias Ellwood is seen in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 25, 2019. - British MPs return to parliament on Wednesday following a momentous Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament was unlawful. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood called on the government to publish a long-term strategy. (Getty)
A shopper walks past signs displaying COVID-19 guidelines, in the centre of Bradford, west Yorkshire on October 31, 2020, as the number of cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 rises. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering imposing a new lockdown across England within days following warnings his localised restrictions strategy has failed to curb soaring coronavirus rates, reports said Saturday. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A shopper walks past signs displaying COVID-19 guidelines in the centre of Bradford, west Yorkshire. (Getty)

But Ellwood said he agreed that schools should be kept open.

"The impact of closing schools is huge. The collateral damage caused from that with parents not being able to go to work is phenomenal," he said.

Ellwood also said Boris Johnson should move his Cabinet to a "war footing" to speed up decision-making, as he believed Number 10 was "overwhelmed".

He added: "Our Cabinet structure has not changed. It's still the same peacetime tried-and-tested system, but it's very risk averse. We should have moved onto a war footing with slicker decision-making and splitting policy creation versus operational delivery.

"I'm afraid this was treated as if it was a terrorist attack or a flooding, where there was a Cobra, a National Security Council meeting, and then we made some plans and then we've tried to keep it going.

"This is very different. It should be comparable to where we were in the Second World War, where you have an ongoing crisis, where the messaging is going to change quite regularly. So you need to keep the nation, the will of the nation, together by keeping them informed.

"We haven't really ever moved to that structure, which is far more efficient in its decision making, separating the daily business of government. The consequence of that is that the bandwidth in Number 10 is just overwhelmed."

Watch: Boris Johnson announces second lockdown amid rising coronavirus infections

It comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned of the "human cost" to the "delay" in bringing in a second national lockdown.

Sir Keir said his party would vote in favour of the latest coronavirus restrictions in Parliament ahead of measures coming into force this Thursday.

But he called on Boris Johnson to use England's four-week national lockdown period to fix the issues around NHS Test and Trace, adding if this was not done, "December 2 will be a review date not an end date".

His comments came as cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted on Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday that lockdown could be extended beyond December 2 if coronavirus infection rates do not significantly fall.

Sir Keir told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "Well these measures are necessary, everybody has seen the figures, the infection rates, the admission rates and tragically the death rates, and that's why three weeks ago we called for a circuit-break.

"Now at that stage the Government rejected it out of hand, ridiculed it, now only to do precisely the same thing - but there's a cost to that delay.

"The lockdown now will be longer, it'll be harder, we've just missed half-term and there's a very human cost to this.”

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