Extend face mask rules and risk triple-digit rebellion, Boris Johnson has warned

Tory Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, urged the Prime Minister to move from legal rules to voluntary guidance, saying: “I believe as a Tory that people can make up their own minds if they want wear a face mask.”

The ‘Red Wall’ MP said he would happily continue to voluntarily cover his face while using the London Underground ‘if hundreds of people pile in’, saying it would make ‘sense’.

But Mr Anderson questioned why the rules should apply to calmer public transport situations, adding: ‘If a person is on a bus, why should they be wearing a face covering? He confirmed he would vote against an extension if it came to the Commons.

Tory MP Bob Blackman, who sits on the executive of the 1922 committee, said: “I don’t see any point in having rules that everybody ignores.”

He said on a visit to a supermarket in his Harrow East constituency last week, half of the shoppers and none of the staff wore face coverings.

A senior Tory MP has warned the Government would be ‘crazy’ to pursue an extension of mask rules and predicted it would provoke a rebellion by more than 100 backbenchers.

“The last thing he [Mr Johnson] Needs is another triple-digit rebellion,’ the MP said amid the Tory mutiny over ‘partygate’. ” Numbers [of Covid cases] fall now. Fortunately, we know that the symptoms are quite mild for those who are vaccinated.

“If he does that, it looks like he’s still being led by [Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris] Whitty and [Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick] Vallance, and right now he just can’t afford it. Any backtracking on this [scrapping Plan B restrictions], in its current situation, would be insane.”

On Monday evening, government sources insisted it was too early for ministers to have made any final decisions on whether to keep some aspects of the Plan B measures.

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