The Omikron variant is spreading rapidly in Great Britain, which is why the government wants to reintroduce corona rules. But Johnson’s own party does not participate – also because of bad role models.
London – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs support from the opposition to survive politically. Dozens of MPs from his Conservative Party have already announced that they will vote in parliament against the stricter corona rules planned by Johnson.
Due to the rapid spread of the Omikron variant, the government wants, among other things, to expand the mask requirement and allow access to nightclubs and larger events only on presentation of a vaccination pass or negative tests. The largest opposition force, Labor, has signaled that it will vote for these measures – that would save Johnson’s majority.
Pressure on Johnson increases
The pressure on the prime minister has increased again since the weekend. The Sunday Mirror newspaper reported that Johnson personally – albeit virtually – attended a Christmas party on Downing Street a year ago during the Corona lockdown. The photos showed that neither the head of government, who apparently acted as the quiz master, nor his employees, who were next to him and dressed for Christmas, wore a mask. Johnson has repeatedly denied that there were Christmas parties on Downing Street. Only a few days ago, however, a video from the seat of government aroused considerable doubts about his statements.
For the prime minister, it will be “perhaps the most difficult week” of his term of office, which began in 2019, reported the PA news agency. The delicate vote in the House of Commons is just the beginning. The rebellious Tory MPs fear not only that tougher restrictions will stifle the recovery of the UK economy. Above all, they argue that the measures are difficult to implement when it appears that even government officials or Johnson himself do not obey the rules. According to the count of the conservative magazine “Spectator” – as of Monday afternoon – 77 of the 361 Tory MPs announced or indicated that they would vote against the government. Johnson has a majority of 79 votes in the House of Commons.
Omikron is expanding rapidly
Johnson and his health minister Sajid Javid again campaigned for trust on Monday. The so-called Plan B is proportionate and essential to public health, Johnson said. He had lifted the Corona rules in the largest British part of England in the summer. At that time he spoke of a “careful but irrevocable” way out of the crisis. But Omikron throws the premier through the bill, especially since it becomes clear that the much-praised vaccination program does not seem to be enough. At the weekend Johnson warned of the “tidal wave” Omikron. The variant is spreading rapidly in the country, so Johnson had to row back. Conservative hardliners resent that.
The opposition has also targeted Johnson. Meanwhile, the Labor Party is urging the Tories to withdraw their trust in the prime minister. “Boris Johnson is unfit to lead our country,” tweeted opposition leader Keir Starmer recently. Nevertheless, the Labor leader, who addressed the nation in a televised address on Monday evening, announced that he would vote for the government’s measures on Tuesday. He wants this to be understood as an act of reason. “Getting vaccinated, wearing masks and working from home will prevent infections,” the politician said in the evening on the BBC. It is a patriotic duty to do so and obey the rules.
However, Johnson faces other problems. The focus is on a by-election for a parliamentary mandate next Thursday. Incumbent Owen Paterson, a fellow party member of Johnson’s party, was forced to resign over his involvement in a lobbying scandal. Now the Conservative Party threatens to lose its seat in the Tory stronghold of North Shropshire in western England to the Liberal Democrats. dpa
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