Boris Johnson will give another press conference today, it has been confirmed. The Prime Minister has spent the day in talks after the seriousness of the new strain of coronavirus caused dozens of European nations to issue a travel ban on flights from the UK.
The Prime Minister made the shock announcement on Saturday that large parts of eastern and south-east England, including London, would be placed under Tier 4 restrictions.
Before then, England was only subjected to Tiers 1, 2 and 3 – but almost 18 million people were put under the new harsher rules from December 20.
Mr Johnson said he was taking the actions with a “heavy heart”, but says he was left with no choice.
He added: “Without action the evidence suggests that infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.
“Yes Christmas this year will be different, very different. We’re sacrificing the chance to see our loved ones this Christmas so that we have a better chance of protecting their lives, so that we can see them at future Christmases.”
What time is Boris Johnson speaking?
Downing Street is yet to issue a time for today’s press conference with the Prime Minister.
However, Saturday’s announcement came at 4pm and previous statements have come at 5pm.
So it is likely we can expect Mr Johnson to appear at around the same time tonight.
Tonight’s briefing comes following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee today.
The committee was convened to discuss the spread of the new coronavirus variant and the response of countries – including France – in banning travel from the UK.
Downing Street said the UK Government was in contact with the French authorities about the ban on lorries crossing the channel.
Asked whether Mr Johnson believed the French action was justified, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously working incredibly closely with our international partners and are working urgently to minimise the disruption as far as possible.
“We are in close contact with the French to try and get this resolved.”
The embattled Prime Minister has had a tough few days, facing fierce criticism for the lates notice of the Tier 4 restrictions.
Mark Harper, the former Conservative chief whip and current chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, has led calls for Parliament to be recalled to allow MPs to “hold ministers to account”.
In a tweet, Mr Harper said: “The developing serious situation arising from the Government’s announcement yesterday reinforces why Parliament should be recalled to debate these matters and hold ministers to account on behalf of our constituents.”
Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne accused the Government of being “frightened” of such scrutiny, adding: “How convenient when Parliament went into recess on Thursday suddenly they were then able to produce this revelation.
“Let’s see the evidence then, let’s have Parliament back and show us and convince us, come clean.
“I want Parliament to be recalled so we can scrutinise properly in a democracy decisions that are being made which affect our economy radically and our liberty.”
He added: “The recall of Parliament requires a request by the Government to the Speaker, why would the Government be so reluctant to recall Parliament?
“Is it that it’s not sure of the evidence that it has and that its case isn’t as convincing as it ought to be, what’s Government frightened of? Frightened of its Parliament?”
Mr Johnson has also sought to defend his position on Brexit after Labur’s Sadiq Khan called for an extension.
Tjhe Prime Minister’s spokesman today insisted that Britain will end a transition period with the European Union on December 31 as planned.
They added: “Our position on the transition period is clear … It will end on Dec. 31, that remains our position.
“We need to ratify any agreement ahead of January 1, which means time is in short supply and that’s why our negotiators continue to work hard.”