Covid: England lockdown to be replaced by tiered restrictions overnight after MPs approve PM's plan

Video report by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston

England's lockdown will end overnight and be replaced by a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions after MPs voted to approve Boris Johnson's plan for regional measures.

Despite heavy opposition from MPs on his own backbenches, among them chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady, the prime minister won the vote by 291 to 78, a majority 213.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had instructed his MPs to abstain from the vote, but 15 oppositions MPs, including Richard Burgon and Emma Lewell-Buck, defied orders by voting against the proposals.

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, currently an Independent MP, also opposed the measures.The victory for the prime minister mean's England's lockdown will be lifted at 00:01 and the country will be carved into different tiers of restrictions, which are stricter for areas with higher prevalence of coronavirus.

Despite the vote passing, this was potentially the biggest Commons revolt Mr Johnson has suffered since the general election; 53 Conservative MPs voted against the prime minister.

The House of Lords was expected to approve the plans later on Tuesday.

What can you do in each tier from December 2? The new rules in England at a glance:

  • Tier 1: Up to six people can meet indoors or outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm.

  • Tier 2: No mixing indoors, apart from support bubbles. Up to six people can meet outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm - but alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

  • Tier 3: No mixing indoors. People can only meet outdoors in limited places such as parks and public gardens. Pubs and restaurants must close, with the exception of takeaway sales.

In all tiers, non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and personal care services can open. People in all tiers to work from home where they can do so. Full details on what you can do in each tier here.

Urging MPs to back his proposals, Mr Johnson insisted, during a debate on the restrictions, "there remains a compelling case for regional tiers in England" because around 1 in 85 people in England has coronavirus.

He said relaxing restrictions would "would be the surest way of endangering our NHS and forcing us into a New Year lockdown".Tory MPs were unhappy that impact assessments of the tiered system published on Monday did not include a detailed breakdown of the effects of the measures on different parts of the economy.

Sir Graham said: "If government is to take away fundamental liberties of the people whom we represent, they must demonstrate beyond question that they're acting in a way that is both proportionate and absolutely necessary.

"Today, I believe the government has failed to make that compelling case."

Former Cabinet minister Damian Green, an MP in Tier 3 Kent, said the plans lacked public support, adding: "I've had the most angry emails over a weekend since the Dominic Cummings trip to Barnard Castle."

Andrea Leadsom, another ex-Cabinet minister, said: "I can't and won't inflict deliberate harm on my constituency unless I can see for myself that to do nothing would be worse."

A Government spokesman welcomed MPs voting to approve the new tiered system in England and said ministers will work with those who expressed concerns.

Speaking in the Commons before the vote, Mr Hancock said another nationwide lockdown across England “would be the only alternative” to the government’s proposed tiers.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer ordered his MPs to abstain on the tiers vote. Credit: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA

But Labour leader Sir Keir said the prime minister's strategy posed a "significant" health risk and it was "highly unlikely" to see restrictions eased in parts of the country before Christmas.

He accused Mr Johnson of "over-promising and under-delivering" by pursuing an approach of short-term decisions that then "bump into the harsh reality of the virus".