Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from his own backbenchers over the new coronavirus lockdown restrictions, with one saying they want to ‘start living like a free people’.
It comes after reports that ministers are divided over new social distancing rules in England that will limit social gatherings to groups of just six people both indoors and outside from Monday.
The Daily Telegraph reports that senior Tories also want younger children to be exempt from the so-called ‘rule of six’ in England, while the Daily Mail claimed Matt Hancock was the only cabinet minister on Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy committee to support the plan at a meeting on Tuesday, the day before it was announced.
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Speaking on Friday, Tory former minister Steve Baker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think it is now time to say that this is not a fit legal environment for the British people.
‘It’s time to move to a voluntary system – unless the government can demonstrate otherwise.
‘And it is time for us to actually start living like a free people, not subjecting ourselves to constantly shifting legal requirements, which I think now no-one can fully understand.’
He added: ‘It seems to me the effect of having Covid marshals will be to turn every public space in Britain into the equivalent of going through airport security where we are badgered and directed… I’m not willing to live like this.’
It comes as coronavirus rates continued to increase across parts of the UK with Leeds and Birmingham among areas at risk of further lockdown measures.