‘Put it in the diary!’ Raab rubbishes fear mongering claims lockdown will be extended

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Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC radio, the Foreign Secretary said the second national lockdown in England had been ordered “reluctantly” and stressed that the economic implications had been considered. The Cabinet minister denied that the Government had used a “doomsday scenario” and “highly selective” data in its modelling of the second wave’s impact when justifying the second coronavirus lockdown on Saturday. 

He said: “This lockdown is a last resort measure but we have had to do it. We recognise the economic cost that’s involved.

“Come the second of December we will revert to the tailored geographically targeted approach because economically that is less painful.”

Asked whether it was certain the lockdown would end on December 2, Mr Raab replied: “Put it in your diary, it’s written into law.” 

It comes as MPs prepare to vote on a new four-week coronavirus lockdown for England amid warnings the NHS will be overwhelmed with thousands more deaths unless action is taken.

With Labour backing the new restrictions, which are due to come into force on Thursday, the Government is expected to comfortably win Wednesday’s Commons vote – despite a number of Tory rebels saying they would vote against the restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a revolt by some Tory backbenchers angry at the impact on civil liberties and the economic damage the measures will cause.

It is thought about 15 Conservative MPs could defy the whips and vote against the new controls – although the parliamentary arithmetic means their rebellion is likely to be largely symbolic.

In the latest sign of Tory unrest about the lockdown, former chief whip Mark Harper said he would join the rebels in the Commons later.

“I do not believe that the Government has made the case for a change away from the tiered system and in favour of an England-wide national lockdown,” he wrote on the ConservativeHome website.

“The published information also confirms that the modelling has not taken into account the introduction of the system of Medium, High and Very High tiers. It is clear that the Government has not given this strategy enough time to demonstrate whether or not it was effective.”

Ahead of the Commons vote, Mr Johnson warned of “fatalities running in the thousands” if no action was taken as cases across the country continued to rise.

At the same time, he sought to offer hope, telling Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that the R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – was “only just above 1” and the new measures would bring it back below that threshold.

Unlike the last national lockdown in March, schools and colleges will remain open under the new controls, which are due to run to December 2.

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However, pubs and restaurants will be forced to close, except for takeaways and deliveries, as will gyms, entertainment venues and non-essential shops.

People will be banned from socialising with other households indoors, and only allowed to meet one other person from another household outdoors.

There has been criticism, however, over rules which mean children’s grassroots sports will be banned outside school settings.

Some Tories have also hit out at a ban on communal worship, which has meant church services marking Remembrance Sunday have had to be cancelled.

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