London: England will enter a second stay-at-home lockdown from Thursday until at least December 2 as members of Parliament approved the new shutdown, announced last week by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an attempt to curb the spike in coronavirus infections in the country. In a House of Commons vote on Wednesday, the parliamentarians supported the new measures by 516 to 38, a majority of 478. It means that, from one minute past midnight on Wednesday, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will close across England and stay shut until the rule expires on December 2. It will replace the three-tiers of regional restrictions across England for four weeks, after which the tiers will be re-imposed.
A total of 34 members of Parliament from Boris Johnson's ruling Conservative Party rebelled against the lockdown, including former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers. During a three-hour debate, ruling Conservative Party rebels and several Labour parliamentarians from the North-West of England said England's tiered system, brought in two weeks ago, had not been given a chance.
Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, said: "The evidence is, from Liverpool, that cases are falling." Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith echoed May's point and said the data presented to ministers to justify the lockdown had "subsequently unravelled in the last few days". Johnson said a second lockdown was "not something any of us wanted to do," but he added: "I am not prepared to take the risk with the lives of British people." "While it pains me to call for such restrictions on lives, liberty and business I have no doubt that these restrictions represent the best and safest path for our country," he told the members of Parliament.
The Scottish National Party did not take part in the vote. In Scotland, a new five-tier restrictions system came into force on Monday. Wales is in a "firebreak" lockdown until November 9 and Northern Ireland is also under tighter restrictions.
Explaining the Labour Party's decision to back the government, Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "Nobody votes for the regulations today with anything other than a heavy heart." He urged Johnson to use the four-week lockdown to come up with "something better" than the three tier system, as it was "not working".