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Tue, 27 October 2020

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Exclusive: Polling Shows The Majority Of Brits Do Not Think The 10pm Curfew Is Justified

Exclusive: Polling Shows The Majority Of Brits Do Not Think The 10pm Curfew Is Justified
4 min read

New polling shows more than half of the British public do not feel the government has justified its 10pm pub curfew rule and want MPs to have a greater say on coronavirus restrictions.

The polling for PoliticsHome, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, revealed that 54 per cent of the public say the government has not provided sufficient scientific justification for the 10pm closing time compared to 29 percent who think that it has and 18 percent who said they did not know.

The survey of 3,000 people was conducted on October 6 and 7.

The curfew is one of the most contentious issues on the Tory backbenches and there have been growing threats from Conservative MPs that they would vote against the government, or abstain, if the rule is extended. 

Despite the Prime Minister's 80 seat majority, the policy may have pushed some of the Tories' own ranks too far as they contend with pub landlords and those in the hospitality sector in their constituencies describing the shorter hours as crippling their businesses. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also asked to see the evidence behind the restriction.

The government has said repeatedly that social distancing rules are harder to maintain when people have drunk more alcohol, and today Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the curfew was common sense. 

Scientists have also warned that noisy pubs and reastaurants risk spreading the disease while last month PoliticsHome reported how pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues accounted for around 20 percent of all Covid transmissions. The government's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam allegedly made the comment on a call to 90 MPs and peers.

However the poll also showed that although 24 percent of the public oppose the 10pm curfew in principle, 48 percent said they did support it overall. 24 percent of those surveyed neither supported nor opposed it.

Conservative MP Mark Harper, who has been critical of the government in its presentation of information to Parliament, said: "I am not surprised at these results. While polling is just a snapshot of opinion, these results certainly reflect the feeling of MPs across the House from all parties, including the government benches. 

"It is more crucial than ever that the government takes MPs with them, giving Parliament the scientific evidence and the opportunity to scrutinise new regulations and thereby making better law. 

"I want the government to suceed with evidence-based policies that actually work. The 10pm curfew does not appear to be supported by evidence that it's effective. The government should think again."

Sir Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, said: "The virus certainly can't tell the time, and the impact on the industry is devestating. To comply with regulations premises have reduced their capacity and introduced expensive new staff-intensive procedures. 

"Consequently, sufficient opening hours are vital to secure sufficient revenues especially when restaruants need to secure a second dinner sitting. 

"This policy, applied across the country despite widely different infection rates, makes nonesense of the stated aim.

"It would have been better to devolve powers to the local levels where any curfew could have been applied to individual establishments, giving proprieters a powerful incentive to influence the social-distancing behaviour of their patrons."

Angry scenes have also errupted in Parliament over MPs demanding being given more of a say on coronavirus restrictions before they are introduced. 

A furious Conservative MP, Charles Walker, said it was an "utter, utter disgrace" that MPs were given just 90 minutes to debate the Coronavirus Act 2020.

And the government had to head off a major revolt spearheaded by Tory chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady MP, by saying they would consult with members of Parliament in the future on restrictions.

PoliticsHome exclusive polling found that a majority of the public agrees with the disgruntled MPs with a significant 62 percent agreeing that parliament should be consulted first before new coronavirus restrictions are announced and implemented. Just 12 percent disagreed and 20 neither agreed nor disagreed.

Of those surveyed 41 percent were closer to the view that MPs having more of a say in restrictions would improve the Government’s decision-making, while 38 percent believed it would slow down decisions. 21 percent said they did not know.

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