BoJo Reportedly Warned by Senior Tories Against Listening to 'Dangerous' Pro-Lockdown Michael Gove
No new COVID-19 restrictions in England before Christmas, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised in his video address on Tuesday. However, ministers "can't rule out" any further measures after 25 December, with Omicron swiftly spreading across the nation, added the PM.
Boris Johnson has been privately warned by senior Tories not to heed the advice of pro-lockdown Michael Gove on COVID-19 policy
, reported the Daily Mail.
Furthermore, advisers who are allied to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities should be moved out of the heart of Government, current and former ministers are believed to have suggested.
“There are a lot of my colleagues who think Mr Gove has become a very dangerous force within the Cabinet,” one Conservative MP was quoted as saying.
Another minister is said to have branded Gove “the octopus” for his manner of ostensibly getting involved in the matters of others at Downing Street.
Other sources cited by the publication deplored the way the UK Prime Minister seemed to rely heavily on Michael Gove, who could wield this personal relationship in his favour while pushing his COVID agenda.
“Gove makes him feel comfortable. Boris trusts him, and he think he’s the one who delivers… Boris needs to stop listening to Gove. Never trust someone who has stabbed you in the back. Caesar killed everyone who crossed him but forgave Brutus – and Brutus killed him,” an MP reportedly warned.
The reference was to events of five years ago, when Brexiteer Michael Gove was forced to defend himself over accusations he had "backstabbed" fellow Conservatives Boris Johnson and David Cameron when he had announced his Tory leadership candidacy.
Gove, then Environment Secretary and a long-term friend of then Prime Minister Cameron, had led the Leave campaign against him ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum. Furthermore, he had claimed he would back Boris Johnson as new Tory leader and Prime Minister in the wake of Cameron's post-referendum resignation.
However, just ahead of Johnson’s official pitch in June 2016, Gove revealed he would be running himself. He stated at the time that he had “come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.
Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson chose not to run after Gove withdrew his backing and announced his own candidacy. Theresa May won the contest on 11 July 2016.
However, a Michael Gove ally is cited as having dismissed the criticism regarding Boris Johnson relying too much on the minister, saying:
“Yes Boris speaks to Michael – because he’s the most effective Cabinet Minister. So what? But Michael is not seeing the data, he’s not in the quad [of senior Ministers]. There is a limit to what he can do on this.”
Omicron Fuels ‘Deeply Concerning Situation’
Michael Gove, a consistently pro-lockdown Cabinet member since the outset of the pandemic began, is described by insiders as having taken a firm stance on implementing restrictions during the first and second coronavirus waves to a degree that “it is ingrained in him that this is what we need to do.”
In mid-December, after chairing a Cobra meeting with devolved administration leaders, Michael Gove had appeared to hint at new COVID-19 restrictions as he said the UK faced a "deeply concerning situation" due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
"We absolutely need to keep everything under review", Gove had stated, with sources saying that he had been urging Cabinet members to support going beyond the "Plan B" measures announced on 8 December.
9 December 2021, 05:42 GMT
On 14 December new COVID-19 restrictions designed to slow down the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the UK passed through the House of Commons, with 369 ayes to 126 noes. However, a huge rebellion when 99 Conservatives voted against his "Plan B" had forced Boris Johnson to rely on Labour support to get the new measure through.
The new guidelines encourage people to work from home whenever possible and impose mandatory face coverings on public transport, in shops and other indoor spaces.
In addition, a COVID-19 pass confirming vaccination is now mandatory for visiting crowded places across the UK, with daily testing required for those who may have come into contact with carriers of the coronavirus.
On 20 December, emerging from a cabinet meeting to discuss the latest COVID-19 situation, Johnson said the situation remains “finely balanced” and people should “exercise caution”.
"We will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, and to protect public health and the NHS (National Health Service), and we won't hesitate to take that action. We are looking at all kinds of things to keep Omicron under control and we will rule nothing out,” Johnson had stated.
The UK has been registering record daily COVID-19 cases for several days in a row now, with 122186 new infections on 24 December.
A day before, analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggested that the Omicron strain of the coronavirus was milder than past variants such as Delta. According to UKHSA data, between 50% and 70% of people were less likely to be admitted to hospital over Omicron.
25 December 2021, 10:23 GMT
Meanwhile, according to minutes from a 20 December meeting of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) published on Thursday, the Omicron variant would have to be about 90% less severe for hospital admissions not to surge to previously recorded peak levels.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned that the spread of the much more transmittable Omicron could potentially overwhelm the National health Service despite “promising” data.
Boris Johnson, in his Christmas message, urged people to get the “wonderful” gift of a COVID-19 booster jab.
According to the UK Health and Security Agency, 82.2 percent of individuals in the country over the age of 12 are least double vaccinated. UKHSA data has revealed that two doses of the vaccine, followed by a third booster dose provides between 60% and 70% protection against symptomatic infection from Omicron