MPs approved the three-tiered approach to regional restrictions last night, despite a group of rebel Conservative MPs opposing the 10pm curfew for hospitality businesses.
The government won the vote on the new approach to lockdowns, including the 10pm curfew, by 299 votes to 82. However 42 Tory MPs opposed the measures in a demonstration of the strong feeling in the party on the effects of the new approach on business and the economy.
Led by the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, it was the largest rebellion Boris Johnson has faced since becoming prime minister.
One conservative MP resigned from his role in government as a parliamentary private secretary ahead of the vote. In a resignation letter Chris Green, MP for Bolton West and Atherton, said that the local lockdown in his area had failed, leaving businesses "on the brink of collapse". He added: "The attempted cure is worse than the disease."
Brady said that the removal of the curfew would lessen the impact of lockdown. He said: "After two-and-a-half months of controls we must be told how and when the restrictions will be lifted. This half-alive state that we have come to inhabit cannot be allowed to become permanent."
Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh said asked for the government to explain the science behind the curfew. He added: "We are going bankrupt as a nation. There won't be the money to pay for the NHS or pensions."
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advised that the impact of the curfew on coronavirus transmission was likely to be "marginal".
UKHospitality has warned that a lack of support for those operating in tiers one and two will mean businesses reach "the point of no return".
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier two, and to a lesser extent tier one, despite their facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40% to 60%.
"They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier-three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside.
"It is time for the government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in those areas where Covid rates are low."
Photo: Flickr – uk_parliament