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Six Tory donors urge Boris Johnson to ease coronavirus lockdown

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of his own party including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs.

The Prime Minister will return to work in Downing Street on Monday to find restlessness brewing in the Tory ranks for restrictions to be relaxed. 

Wealthy backers who have poured millions into Conservative campaign war chests have demanded the government acts to fire back up the spluttering economy.

The six businessmen, who include billionaires Peter Hargreaves and Michael Spencer, warned the lockdown risks wreaking long-term damage. 

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, told the Sunday Times he favoured ‘cautiously reopening the economy’.

Steve Morgan, the former boss of the housebuilder Redrow, told the paper: ‘We’re actually in danger that the medicine – if you want to call the lockdown that – is more harmful than the cure.

‘I’m strongly in favour of getting the country back to work. This is not about profit; this is about -saving the country from going bankrupt, from mass unemployment, from businesses going bust, people losing their livelihoods and homes.’

Millionaire banker Sir Henry Angest and restaurateur Richard Caring also lined up to impress the need for a loosening of restrictions.  

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of the Conservative Party, including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of the Conservative Party, including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of the Conservative Party, including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, said he favoured 'cautiously reopening the economy'

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, said he favoured 'cautiously reopening the economy'

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, said he favoured ‘cautiously reopening the economy’

 

During Mr Johnson’s recovery, the cabinet successfully displayed a united front and rallied around the government’s central message for the public to stay at home.

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules. 

But last night three of the PM’s top team broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy.

One of the trio of cabinet ministers told the Sunday Times: ‘I don’t know anyone in the cabinet who doesn’t want the lockdown eased as soon as possible.

‘If the public are beginning to give up on it, then nobody wants to see it enforced through compulsion rather than consent.’

Private disagreements have been seeping out of cabinet, which is reportedly split between ‘hawks’ wanting to ease the lockdown and ‘doves’ who want to keep the current curbs.

Hawkish members include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has had to dig deep into the Treasury coffers to fund billions in bailouts and is confronted with bleak forecasts.

Last night three of the PM's cabinet broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy. Pictured: Boris Johnson holding his first Cabinet meeting following last year's General Election

Last night three of the PM's cabinet broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy. Pictured: Boris Johnson holding his first Cabinet meeting following last year's General Election

Last night three of the PM’s cabinet broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy. Pictured: Boris Johnson holding his first Cabinet meeting following last year’s General Election

Doves are understood to include Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is one of the senior figures steering the response to the crisis.

Mr Johnson, who will take the reins back from Dominic Raab on Monday, has reportedly become more reluctant to ease the lockdown since his own battle with the virus in intensive care.

Yet he is facing a revolt on his own backbenches, with several Tory party big beasts publicly voicing their concerns.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis this weekend wrote: ‘If we do not get a plan in place soon, it will have a devastating impact on businesses, jobs and lives.

‘This should jolt the Government into rapidly navigating the UK’s route out of lockdown.’

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open.

The clamour to publish a blueprint out of lockdown is also being echoed by a re-energised Labour Party with Sir Keir Starmer at the helm.

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules (London revellers pictured)

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules (London revellers pictured)

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules (London revellers pictured) 

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open

Sir Keir has repeatedly called for the government to spell out a road map forward.  

Yet leading scientists have poured cold water on hopes the lockdown could be relaxed, warning the rate of new infections is still too high.  

Tacking to a containment strategy based on rigorous testing and contact tracing is widely touted as the route to easing restrictions.

But the UK’s track-and-trace infrastructure would cripple under the load of daily cases at their current levels, experts have said.

They have lined up behind Professor John Edmunds, who sits on the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, to not jump the gun on lifting the social distancing.

The warnings came as Britain passed the grim 20,000-death milestone in the coronavirus outbreak.

A further 813 recorded fatalities took the total toll to 20,319, while cases also rose by 4,913 to 148,377. 

Downing Street last night declined to comment. 

Courtesy DAILY MAIL

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