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Coronavirus: Lockdown 'must not be more damaging than disease', Norfolk MP warns

A Norfolk MP has stressed the need to ensure the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown “isn’t more damaging than the disease”, as dozens of rebel Conservative MPs nationally form an anti-lockdown alliance.

Around 70 MPs are believed to have joined a political lobby group to oppose any extension to the current rules.

England entered into a second period of national lockdown at the start of the month, with restrictions expected to be lifted on December 2.

Coronavirus news.
Coronavirus news.

But with fears the disease rate will not fall to a point where it is safe to reopen the country, some Conservative MPs, led by former Brexit minister Steve Baker, have formed the backbench anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group (CRG) to push the case to end shutdown.

A further 25 Tory MPs are said to be considering joining the fray, including former chief whip Mark Harper and chairman of the powerful backbench 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady.

Speaking earlier this week, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said he had no plans to join the alliance but warned of the “major health impact” of the current raft of restrictions and closures.

Pictured from left, Chloe Smith, Liz Truss, George Freeman, James Wild and Jerome Mayhew. (27179363)
Pictured from left, Chloe Smith, Liz Truss, George Freeman, James Wild and Jerome Mayhew. (27179363)

The Conservative MP and ex-minister said: “The creation of the Covid research group of MPs is a sign of the widespread concern about the need for better data and advice to balance the risks and costs of public health and economic shutdown.”

He added: “As we see here in Norfolk, lockdown also has a major health impact. We need to make sure the cure isn’t more damaging than the disease.”

No MPs from Norfolk or Waveney are thought to have joined the CRG so far.

Suffolk MP Peter Aldous, who holds the Conservative seat in Waveney, confirmed he was not a member of the group, and did not know if any party colleagues were considering becoming members.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis both hold roles as Conservative cabinet ministers, making them unlikely to have joined a backbench rebel group.

Richard Bacon, South Norfolk MP, Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, Jerome Mayhew, Broadland MP, Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, and James Wild, North West Norfolk MP have been contacted for comment but did not respond to enquiries.

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis has previously criticised the government for its “boom and bust” approach to the disease.

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