Downing Street in 'crisis mode', as cabinet meets to discuss potential Christmas restrictions

What came from Monday's Cabinet Meeting? ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana has the details

All weekend there has been talk of a press conference in Downing Street. On Friday, officials were told there could be one on Saturday. On Saturday, they said maybe Sunday. And today, they are pointing to this afternoon. They know there is an urgent need to say something as speculation of further restriction mounts. But there are a couple of things that could be holding the prime minister back. The first is the data. At a Cabinet meeting on Saturday, a number of ministers argued that the evidence should be in place first, before decisions are made. Even the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said that steps with multimillion pound consequences needed to have solid statistics behind them. That’s not to say that the Chancellor would resist further restrictions but he - and all the Cabinet - first want more definitive data on the severity of the Omicron variant.

Anushka Asthana says missing data is holding ministers back from making a decision about imposing further Covid measures

Many wonder if early indications from South Africa that Omicron could be less severe than Delta will be shown to be true (although Cabinet ministers aren’t hopeful that will make enough difference to prevent the need for restrictions). So it will be a difficult virtual Cabinet at 2pm today, given that data has still not been finalised. Second is the politics. Mr Johnson has to recall Parliament to do anything that goes beyond guidance. If the Speaker is notified today, MPs could be back on Wednesday to approve any package.

What will the NHS make of the government holding off on introducing new measures? ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan explains

It is likely to kick in after Christmas, as the prime minister is reticent to ruin the 25th for families - and Labour appear to be backing him on that. It's worth saying that Tories who are against further restrictions think that position is not logical - they say if think you need to act surely you’d do so now. Boris Johnson will win a vote with Labour support. But many of his own MPs will rebel, further destabilising his leadership as it is already engulfed by scandals over parties. Downing Street is in crisis mode and it’s not a surprise. They’re wondering how their prime minister can survive this political battering.

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