Iain Duncan Smith warns PM over coronavirus police powers at Christmas – ‘It’s a mistake’

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The former Conservative leader told TalkRADIO he is worried about the new set of coronavirus winter rules proposed by the Government to replace the current lockdown. The Prime Minister is expected to outline restrictions that will apply to the Christmas period on Thursday as well as announcing which rule will apply to which part of the country from December 3. Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned the new rules could see local authorities receive unproportionate powers to police the country. 

He said: “Most people will make a rational decision, you will always get groups of people that don’t care and won’t make a rational decision.

“So I guess if the Government wants to make this sort of clear, then guidelines are very important.

“My slight worry is that there is now a very strong set of rules now being applied in what’s called the winter rules.

“These have just been published and they are very, very severe. It’s given huge power to local authorities to intervene, to fine and to basically try to get inside normal people’s lives.

“I think that is a mistake. I don’t think that’s necessary. I think it certain areas, you still have enough power to deal with people who won’t help and won’t deal with this in a proper way.

“But generally, most people are going to try to deal with this sensibly.

“Otherwise we haven’t got enough police in the world to be able to police with people if they don’t behave sensibly and the local authorities won’t be able to impose anything.

“So we go along with policing by consent, Government by consent and the moment we start to abandon that then the public themselves will start to abandon reasonableness as well.

“So we need to balance that carefully as much as we need to balance the economy.”

Christmas will be the season to be “jolly careful”, Boris Johnson has warned, as he continues to thrash out a plan with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which will allow families to reunite.

The Prime Minister was unable on Monday to confirm details of how people across the UK would be able to spend the festive period as talks continue between the devolved administrations.

However, he confirmed that England will return to a regional tier system from December 2, though details of which areas will be in which tiers will not be set out until Thursday.

The Government has also announced that travellers arriving in England will be able to end their quarantine period with a negative coronavirus test after five days from December 15.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passengers who arrive from a destination not on the Government’s travel corridors list can reduce the 14-day period by paying for a test from a private firm after five days at a cost of £65-£120.

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In a press conference on Monday evening, Mr Johnson said “we’re not out of the woods yet” despite a breakthrough with a British vaccine, warning that the UK faced a “hard” start to 2021 but that he expected “things will look and feel very different” after Easter.

He said that with a “favourable wind” the majority of people most in need of a vaccination might be able to get one by April, as the Oxford-AstraZeneca team said its jab had proved up to 90% effective.

It follows positive results from Pfizer and Moderna, but none of the jabs have yet been approved for use.

Mr Johnson, speaking via videolink at a Downing Street press conference as he continues his self-isolation, said: “We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill but they are not here yet.

“Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.”

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