Parliamentary allies of Boris Johnson are deeply concerned about how Tory MPs will react to any kind of ‘circuit break’ set of restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The public are in favour of tighter restrictions. Even before the latest infection numbers came out, more than 60 per cent of voters backed a 10pm curfew, according to YouGov. But Tory MPs are in a very different place. As one weary secretary of state put it to me earlier in the week, one of the government’s problems is that ‘the libertarian chunk of the population is disproportionately represented in the Tory party and the press’.
Compounding this issue, as Robert Peston points out, is that the scientists are divided on what to do next, which makes the decision about what to do even more political. Many Tory MPs are convinced that Spain's experience (and for more detail on that see this thread from Ed Conway), indicates that there isn’t the need for more drastic action immediately.
Boris Johnson is operating under emergency powers that mean he doesn’t need to come to parliament to get approval for tightening up Covid restrictions. But these powers need to be renewed at the end of this month. The worry for Johnson is that all this talk of a ‘circuit break’ is increasing Tory opposition to the blanket renewal of these current powers.