Stormy PMQs

Johnson scraps Covid rules amid calls to quit

Boris Johnson listening to criticism of his leadership

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused today of announcing a major easing of Covid restrictions as a means of saving his job.

During a stormy Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Johnson told MPs he was scrapping England’s Plan B measures, including mandatory face coverings in public places, Covid passports and the need to work from home.

He told MPs that scientists believed the Omicron wave had peaked nationally.

The prime minister drew cheers from loyalists after he also said the government intended to end the legal requirement for people to self-isolate after they tested positive for Covid.

But he was accused of making the changes in order to satisfy disgruntled Tory backbenchers and faced renewed calls to resign, not only from the Opposition benches but from his own party.

Veteran Conservative backbencher and former Brexit minister David Davis turned the heat up another notch by calling for Mr Johnson to resign, telling MPs he expects leaders to take responsibility for their actions.

“In the name of God, go”, he declared.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, buoyed by the defection of Bury South Tory MP Christian Wakeford who crossed the floor to join the main opposition, said the Prime Minister was being forced into action by the furore around his leadership.

Christian Wakeford crossed the floor to join Labour

“He’s too distracted to do the job and it’s not just the Prime Minister who’s letting us down. Where’s the Health Secretary’s plan to prepare for another wave of infections?” asked Sir Keir.

“Why isn’t the Chancellor working with British manufacturers to shore up our domestic supplies of tests? Where is the Foreign Secretary’s plan to help vaccinate the world? They’re all too busy plotting their leadership campaigns to keep the public safe.”

The SNP’s leader in the Commons, Ian Blackford, agreed. He said: “This week was supposed to be Operation Big Dog, but it’s become Operation Dog’s dinner.”

He added: “We’ve had more damaging revelations that Parliament has been mislead” and called the PM’s excuses “ludicrous”.

Mr Johnson responded to Sir Keir’s accusations by saying that if the Labour leader had been in charge the country would still be in lockdown.

He also said the UK had distributed billions of vaccine doses around the world and was leading other countries in fighting the virus.

He used the defection of Mr Wakeford to make it clear that he intended to stay on as Prime Minister. “We won Bury South for the first time under this Prime Minister… and we will it again at the next election under this Prime Minister,” he said.

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