‘Draconian’ Covid powers could return this winter as Boris Johnson set to extend laws

Boris Johnson addresses booster vaccinations for the elderly

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The Prime Minister will face off against staunch anti-lockdown MPs who will vote next week on whether to renew the Coronavirus Act. The Act, introduced 18 months ago, gives the Government emergency powers to handle the Covid pandemic, including the ability to temporarily close down schools and businesses, suspend public gatherings and postpone local elections.

Former Brexit Secretary, David Davis, said it was now time to roll back the measures after suggesting the Coronavirus Act contains “some of the most draconian powers” ever to be introduced in the UK.

He said: “Thankfully, the crisis point of the pandemic has passed.

“So it is now time to roll back the extensive powers unwisely handed over to the state.”

The Tory MP has been a harsh critic of the bill, having previously threatened a backbench rebellion against Mr Johnson should the Government not add a strict “brick-wall stop” to the Act, which is now reviewed every six months.

Only 35 MPs voted against extending the rules in March.

However, the UK’s successful vaccine rollout will now put pressure on the PM as the need for harsh lockdown restrictions fade.

It is possible that extending the Coronavirus Act this month could lead to a wider rebellion.

A government spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We will allow temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act to expire wherever possible, as we have at previous review points.

“However, it would be irresponsible to allow all temporary provisions to expire.

‘“Doing so would remove the government’s ability to protect renters from eviction, give sick pay to those self-isolating from day one, and direct schools to reopen where needed, for example.

“The British public would expect us to retain these powers in case they are needed through the winter.”

At time of writing, new Covid cases in the UK still remain at over 30,000 a day.

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The latest official Covid data recorded 37,830 new daily cases on September 2 but only 178 deaths.

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