Northampton MP Andrew Lewer will NOT back Boris Johnson plan to delay 'Freedom Day'

"This will be catastrophic for business and people's health," warning ahead of today's Commons vote

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 10:45 am

Northampton MP Andrew Lewer will not back the government in a Commons vote today (Wednesday) over a four-week delay on lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Lewer voted to extend emergency legislation for another six months and plans for back in March.

But the Tory member for Northampton South says extending rules on social distancing by putting 'Freedom Day' on hold until July 19 will be "catastrophic for many business."

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Northampton MP Andrew Lewer says he will not back the PM's plan to delay 'Freedom Day' in today's Commons vote

And he fears Boris Johnson's logic suggests "a gloomy autumn and winter of further restrictions ahead."

A Northampton pub landlady described the extension of restrictions as 'soul destroying' and Mr Lewer said: "The vaccine programme was described as a game-changer by the very people who now want to keep us in further restrictions.

"The effectiveness of our vaccines at preventing hospitalisation means we can and should 'unlock' on 21st June.

"By then, those vulnerable groups that accounted for 99 percent of Covid deaths and 80 percent of all Covid hospitalisations will have been offered both doses.

"Back in January, the health secretary famously declared that once all the most vulnerable were vaccinated he would ‘cry freedom’.

"Yet that does not seem to be enough now and it points to a political choice being made that focuses too exclusively on Covid at the expense of other threats to health, especially mental health, and to the businesses that pay taxes and wages that allow the public sector including the NHS — to function at all.

"This will be catastrophic for many businesses, currently struggling because of previous and current restrictions and equally devastating for business confidence and people’s health."

Mr Lewer has not confirmed if he will abstain or join a growing number of other Tories and Labour MPs voting against the measures.

Labour has signalled it will back the extension so the Prime Minister should be spared an embarrassing defeat.

But Conservative lockdown-sceptics are likely to express their anger during a debate.

Mr Lewer added: "I will not be able to support the Government’s proposed extension of lockdown when it comes to a Commons vote.

"The logic of this ‘choice’ suggests a gloomy autumn and winter of further restrictions ahead when respiratory diseases increase and fill our hospitals again.

"Variants may well appear for the rest of time and we will have to learn to live with it.

"If we cannot lift our restrictions in the current situation, then we never will.

"I fear we are now being trapped in a cycle of permanent seasonal restrictions and loss of liberty."

The PM announced the delay on Monday claiming it would allow time for more people to be offered vaccinations combating the rise of Delta variant cases In Northampton, the weekly number of new covid cases has risen from 20 to 134 since the start of January.

Latest figures show 130,000 have received a first vaccination dose — nearly two-thirds of averybody aged 18 and over — while 91,000 have had both jabs.

Health chiefs have voiced concerns, however, that uptake is lower in the town than in the rest of the UK.

Mr Lewer added: "Some will say that this is only for four weeks longer and the Prime Minister has described this sacrifice as ‘one final heave’ in the battle to combat Covid.

"He said it was ‘one final push’ back in December and in January when we had the last big lockdown.

"Last time it was to give space to vaccinate our most vulnerable and, not without concerns, I supported it.

"We have achieved that and yet we are facing yet more continuation of restrictions and uncertainty."