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Boris Johnson 'reviewing' widespread changes to local lockdown rules

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 30, 2020: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street in central London after attending weekly Cabinet meeting temporarily held at the Foreign Office to comply with social distancing guidelines due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, on 30 September, 2020 in London, England.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson has not ruled out standardising local lockdown rules to make them simple (Picture: Getty)

Boris Johnson has not ruled out standardising local lockdown rules to make them simpler to follow after he was criticised for the complexity of the legislation.

The prime minister apologised on Tuesday when he failed to explain the new measures for large parts of the North East.

Conservative MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker, said on Wednesday the PM made the mistake because of the large and changing number of regulations.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also attacked Johnson for his strategy for local restrictions during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

Downing Street has now said it has not ruled out standardising rules to make them easier to comprehend.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We always keep the guidelines under review and you have seen in the past us take steps such as introducing the rule of six in order to provide more clarity and certainty around the rules.”

Starmer questioned why only one area of England, Luton, has ever come out of local restrictions.

He also pushed Johnson on what his plan for lifting restrictions was and criticised his “whack-a-mole” strategy.

In response, Johnson accused the opposition leader of “sniping from the sidelines”.

The PM said the reason Luton had been the only area to be freed from a local lockdown was that “local people pulled together to suppress the virus” and followed guidance.

He added: “Nobody wants to impose restrictions of this kind, whether in Bradford or anywhere else in the country, and we work very closely with local authorities to ensure that we have the right mix of the approach that we adopt.

“But, frankly, when you have the virus going up in the way that it is now in some parts of the country, you have to take strong, local action.”

Watch: Keir Starmer challenges Boris Johnson on Covid-19 rule confusion

Business secretary Alok Sharma has hinted that concessions for Tories disgruntled by quick-fire coronavirus rules could be on their way.

He said ministers would “come forward with some suggestions” to pacify concerns that there had been a lack of scrutiny in a recent flurry of restrictions designed to stem the second wave of COVID-19 infections across the UK.

On Wednesday, MPs approved the renewal of the government’s emergency powers granted under the Coronavirus Act, which was passed at the start of the pandemic in March. The motion was approved by 330 votes to 24 – a 306 majority.

It came after more than 50 Tory MPs had signed an amendment by the chairman of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, requiring the government to consult Parliament on any new measures.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle decided against allowing MPs the chance to consider the amendment.

Coronavirus: what happened today

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