Boris Johnson is facing growing calls from a number of Conservative backbenchers to reopen schools from February 22nd.
A number of Tory MPs are becoming increasingly disgruntled by the strict lockdown rules. This has not been helped by reports of a falling ‘R rate’.
18 Conservative Members of Parliament rebelled against the Government’s plan for a March 8th return to school. The revelation comes after Scotland and Wales announced that they would attempt to return some pupils after the half-term break. This latest rebellion by backbenchers is the most recent in a long line of votes, where some Members of the House have broken from the party line.
Earlier on Saturday, the former Cabinet Minister and founder of the Blue Collar Conservatives movement, Esther McVey, said: “With the vaccination rollout going so well on the one hand, and the huge amount of harm we’re causing to children by not giving them an education on the other, I really hope that we can open school gates, classrooms and playgrounds on 22nd February”.
So far, the nationwide vaccine rollout has been proceeding apace. As of February 6th, it is estimated that over 11 million citizens have received at least their first dose. The UK has also, thus far, greatly outperformed EU countries in the number of vaccines it has administered. The successful nationwide effort has led to an increased number of calls to reopen the economy.
Earlier, Conservative MP Sir Robert Syms warned of “great damage” if the country did not begin to reopen its education system. The MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, also added: “The damage being done to the education of pupils, their social development and mental health is immense, and we cannot allow children to be the forgotten victims”.
The continued appeals by Conservative backbenchers, combined with a falling ‘R rate’ nationwide, may mean the country is far from the end of this story. There is also a strong possibility that this issue could be raised in the next round of PMQs on Wednesday.