The Tory revolt against new coronavirus rules shows Johnson is not secure | Simon Jenkins

With a leadership vacuum at the top of government, parliament is trying to take back some control

For rule of six read rule of 50. It is hard to believe that the Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, will appease Boris Johnson and refuse this week’s amendment to the Covid lockdown bill from the Tory backbench leader Graham Brady. Brady wants parliament to be free to monitor Johnson’s six-month emergency pandemic bill of unprecedented curbs on personal liberty. He claims to have 50 Tory MPs behind him, enough to get his way. Britain cannot allow its ruler dictatorial powers for a full half year.

It might be otherwise. Were Britain’s test-and-trace regime remotely operational, were its Covid “case rate” better than near random (as it is related only to testing), had the government communicated convincing evidence for social distancing, and were sufficient economic counter-measures in place, public confidence might be greater. None of this applies. Rumours that Johnson’s science advisory group, Sage, wants a two-week lockdown as a “circuit breaker” have been the last straw. On whose say-so, on what evidence, with what degree of criminal enforcement? Johnson says he could bring in the army, Trump-style.

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