MPs vote to extend Covid restrictions by four weeks, as Boris Johnson says “a little more time” is needed to tackle virus

Johnson faced opposition from his own backbenchers, but was saved by support from Labour

MPs have voted to extend the delay on lifting Covid restrictions in England by a month, despite opposition from within the Conservative party.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced pressure from members of his own party over the delay, which will see restrictions continue until 19 July.

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The vote took place tonight (16 June) at 7pm, in the House of Commons. MPs voted 461 to 60, a majority of 401, to approve regulations which extended restrictions.

Johnson announced he would extend restrictions until 19 July, a decision which has now been legislated for by MPs (Picture: Parliament)
Johnson announced he would extend restrictions until 19 July, a decision which has now been legislated for by MPs (Picture: Parliament)

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Tory backbenchers opposed the restraints on ‘individual freedom’

The majority was helped by support from Labour, who hope the extension will allow millions of others around the UK to be vaccinated.

On Monday, Johnson announced that wedding guest restrictions would be lifted - following his own wedding to Carrie Symmonds on 29 May.

However, he advised that he would not lift any further restrictions until a "terminus” date of 19 July, as the Delta variant of Coronavirus continues to pose a threat in the UK.

Therefore, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs endure their 16th month of closure and offices will remain closed where possible, as work from home remains the default position.

The Prime Minister’s position was not welcomed by all in the Commons, as Conservative backbenchers raised concerns over he, his advisors and Matt Hancock’s commitment to ending restrictions next month.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Tuesday, MPs Philip Davies and William Wragg quizzed Johnson over his decision not to lift restrictions on 21 June.

Davies asked why Johnson did not trust the “the common sense of the British people and his Conservative instincts of individual freedom and individual responsibility,” instead opting to follow advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Mr Wragg asked: “When can we expect the co-ordinated chorus of Sage members recommencing their media appearances to depress morale?”

He asked if Mr Johnson feared having to give another press conference to postpone “the return of our freedoms”.

Mr Johnson insisted he did not want to see Covid restrictions last forever but “a little more time” was needed to vaccinate millions more people and combat the growing prevalence of mutant variants.