Kuenssberg warns Boris on brink of imposing Scotland-like Covid policy ‘A lot of talk’

Covid: ‘A lot of chatter in Westminster’ says Kuenssberg

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Laura Kuenssberg delivered her assessment of Tuesday’s House of Commons result which saw 99 Tory rebels vote against the Government’s coronavirus certification plans. Despite the vote passing 369 – 126, the rebellion raised huge question marks over Boris Johnson’s ability to lead the country through the pandemic as the Government required Labour’s support to pass through the rules. Ms Kuenssberg said there has been “chatter” in the Westminster bubble and said the Government may seek to mimic Nicola Sturgeon’s approach by issuing guidance and advice over the holidays rather than any laws to circumvent any more embarrassing episodes.

Speaking on the Today Programme, Ms Kuenssberg gave her assessment of how the UK Government moves on from Tuesday’s Commons vote and recalls how there have been discussions about the surge of the Omicron variant.

She explains: “There is a lot of chatter in Westminster with all of the evidence of this surge of Omicron about what next.

“[Tuesday] was extraordinary, the scale of the [rebellion], the misjudgement in No10 about the level of resistance and all parts of the Tory party not on the payroll coming together against the Prime Minister.

“But when it comes to what next, I don’t think this automatically means we can assume Boris Johnson would never be able to get anything else through the House of Commons to try to restrict the pandemic.

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“When it comes to this vote, the evidence for vaccine passports last night was mixed – the Labour Party was going to back it anyway.

“And more pertinent, the Government could take the kind of stance that Nicola Sturgeon has and set out introducing guidance for people’s behaviour rather than having to try to change the law which, politically, of course, would be more of a challenge.”

Ms Kuenssberg said there is “a lot of talk” in Westminster about guidance being issued over the Christmas holidays as she remarks on the importance of how the public perceives the new rules.

The journalist added the rebellion seen on Tuesday was a “distress call” for the Tories but it did not limit their ability to issue new restrictions to tackle the pandemic.

She concluded: “And there is rising speculation about the possibility of guidance emerging at some point in the next week or so.”

Public Health Scotland urges people to defer Christmas parties

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced additional guidance for Scots on Tuesday where she advised them not to mix with more than three households over Christmas.

It was rumoured the SNP would introduce further restrictions in the days leading up to this week with Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf saying it was “inevitable”.

Scotland, Wales, and England have followed different paths when it comes to the pandemic with Scotland keeping mask mandates despite them being lifted in England in July.

In Wales, Covid certification has been used for some public venues and mask-wearing is still enforced.

However, Ms Kuenssberg noted with the introduction of stricter restrictions this week it could be likely to see the UK Government follow in the footsteps of Scotland and issue guidance rather than go through the Commons and suffer another embarrassing episode.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said during his morning media round that it would be unlikely to see further restrictions before Christmas as it would mean Parliament would need to be recalled.

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He said on Good Morning Britain: “One thing the Prime Minister said if we needed to, or wanted to, or thought there was a requirement to introduce something further, we would recall Parliament before the end of the year.

“We don’t think that is necessary and that would be a really high bar, of course, the need to recall Parliament over the Christmas period. No, we think we’ve got the right measures in place.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed 200,000 a day are being infected with Omicron according to UK medical modelling.

Medical advisers suggest the majority of the infections are in London which also has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the UK with Omicron accounting for over half of infections.

Government data also suggests around two million Londoners have not been vaccinated.

It comes as the Government seeks to ramp up its booster programme for double-jabbed Britons with them aiming to offer a third jab to all over-18s by the end of the year.

But the programme hit several obstacles along the way with hospitals across the country seeing hour-long queues to get inside and a lack of volunteers working.

Government websites also crashed meaning many were shut out of booking their booster appointments.

On Wednesday, appointments opened up to 18-29-year-olds to book their additional vaccinations.

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