Two days after abruptly announcing plans to put England back into a lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a mutiny on Monday from members of his Conservative Party, who said he went too far, and scalding criticism from opposition leaders, who said he acted too late to stem a second wave of the coronavirus.
Mr. Johnson’s decision, a reluctant reversal after weeks of stubbornly resisting a lockdown, seemed to please almost no one. His allies in the right-wing press have turned on him, as have disgruntled business leaders.
The about-face even reopened fault lines from the debate over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, as Nigel Farage, the pro-Brexit leader, said he would rebrand his Brexit Party with a new name, Reform U.K., and a platform of opposing the lockdown.
A somber Mr. Johnson defended himself in Parliament, apologizing for the economic pain caused by the lockdown but insisting there was no alternative. At the current rate of infections and hospitalizations, he said, England’s hospitals would have to turn away patients within weeks.
The Labour Party’s leader, Keir Starmer, endorsed the lockdown. But he accused the prime minister of dithering for 40 days after his scientific advisers recommended taking this step — a delay that he claimed had cost lives.
Mr. Johnson’s now-defunct program of targeted restrictions, he said, “not only failed to stop the second wave, they been swept away by it.” Mr. Starmer called for a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown nearly three weeks ago.
For all the criticism of Mr. Johnson, his latest plans are not likely to be derailed. While a handful of Conservative members of Parliament said they would oppose the lockdown measure when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday, the prime minister’s 80-seat majority, plus the seal of approval from the Labour Party, all but guarantees that it will be approved by the House of Commons.
Still, the swelling unrest in Conservative ranks, the rising strength of the opposition and the re-emergence of Mr. Farage as a threat from the right add up to a treacherous landscape for Mr. Johnson.
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