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COVID-19: Boris Johnson’s warnings about the endangered lockdown sent spine shivers down at pessimistic conference | UK News

It was a press conference that earlier in the week was unlikely to appear in the Prime Minister’s diary.

What was in his journal was a convivial lunch with Taoiseach Micheal Martin at his retirement in the Checkers campaign.

The Prime Minister became fond of Checkers, we are told, and failed to escape into the peace and quiet of the Chilterns during the lockdown.

But the sudden rise of the so-called Indian variant of COVID this week presented an emergency that required a Friday afternoon return to London on the M40.

Even so, the Prime Minister returned late and started more than half an hour late.

But what was happening at that press conference was already evident in a government emergency declaration issued late the night before.

Worryingly, the last sentence read: “We cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at the local or regional level if evidence suggests they are needed to contain or suppress a variant that escapes the vaccine.”

And so Mr Johnson made it clear. Monday’s third step in the roadmap for ending the lockout – reopening pubs, restaurants, etc. – is going as planned.

But the government has decided to go ahead with the third step “on the whole,” Mr Johnson said. Generally?

This suggests that there was a fierce debate in Whitehall and between ministers and medics like Professor Chris Whitty – who stood alongside the Prime Minister – over whether to execute a sharp U-turn.

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Indian variant “ should become dominant ”

But canceling the third step now, at the 11th hour, would have provoked a backlash from business and – more importantly for the PM – from Tory backbenchers.

But we should enjoy the respite while it lasts. Stage 4, June 21, is now in the air, we have been warned.

The Prime Minister told us firmly that it is …

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This notice was published: 2021-05-14 18:39:00