Boris Johnson has appealed to Tory MPs plotting a rebellion on his coronavirus laws to follow the guidance to achieve “long-term liberation”.
The Prime Minister is under pressure to give Parliament the opportunity to vote on future restrictions, with more than 50 Conservatives signalling they could revolt.
Some within his own party have drawn comparisons between George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian novel of authoritarianism and the sweeping powers being used to prevent a coronavirus resurgence.
Mr Johnson appealed to MPs ahead of Wednesday’s vote to renew the powers in the Coronavirus Act by saying the nation remained in a “serious situation”.
“Nobody wants to do these kinds of things. Nobody in their right mind wants to stop people singing and dancing in pubs or enjoying themselves in the normal way,” he told a press conference in Exeter on Tuesday.
“I appreciate the (Orwell) characterisation but if we all work together and get this thing down, get this virus down, then we can keep going with our strategy, keep education open, keep the economy moving and work for the day, as I say, when I believe that those medical scientific improvements will truly deliver the long-term liberation we need.
“And to deliver it we’ve all basically got to work together and follow the guidance. That’s what I respectfully say to my colleagues in Parliament and they will, as I know they all want, have an opportunity to talk about these issues, to debate them properly, and discuss them as parliamentarians should.”
He also reiterated his commitment to give more regular debates on coronavirus in the Commons and promised that MPs will be able to question the Government’s scientific advisers more regularly.
But, after the Prime Minister’s plea, further pressure came from the senior group of MPs on the Liaison Committee, which gets to question Mr Johnson in the Commons.
Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, writing to Mr Johnson as committee chair, said the “majority of us” support Parliament having a vote “before or immediately after” restrictions come into force.
“The idea that such restrictions can be applied without express parliamentary approval, except in dire emergency, is not widely acceptable and indeed may be challenged in law,” Sir Bernard said.
Some 52 Conservatives have publicly backed an amendment to the legislation by Sir Graham Brady, the influential chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories.
With it uncertain whether Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will select the amendment, the rebels expressed optimism the Government would make concessions after a meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Sir Graham messaged: “They know we have the numbers. So likely to be an accommodation reached.”