JACOB Rees-Mogg has suggested the Government has a “degree of flexibility” on whether lockdown rules could be lifted earlier.
It comes despite Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock insisting the lockdown roadmap dates are the earliest they could possibly be relaxed.
The PM’s cautious lifting plan isn’t set in stone and could be moved back if cases rise significantly or a new variant is found – but Downing Street has insisted it won’t be brought forward to lift the rules any quicker than the plan.
Schools will go back from March 8, the rule of six returns outside from the end of the month, shops and gyms will open in April followed by indoor activities and staycations in May.
By June 21, the PM hopes to lift all restrictions.
Boris said he was confident that the UK was on track to fully unlock the nation and relax all the rules by June as he hoped.
But MPs had called for him to move faster and said by the time all the vulnerable were vaccinated, they should look to lift the rules.
Ministers are worried that could see the virus rip through vulnerable communities or people who haven’t been given the vaccine yet.
Even Neil Ferguson – known as Prof Lockdown – said the PM should be prepared to speed up his roadmap if the data allows.
But in the latest edition of his Moggcast for the ConservativeHome website, Mr Rees-Mogg insisted the logic of the PM’s roadmap was “impeccable”.
When asked whether the timeline could be brought forward if vaccine goals were being smashed, he replied: “Inevitably governments always have within them a degree of flexibility.
“But I think the logic behind the timeline is impeccable.”
The PM had slapped down people urging him to go faster on a visit to a school yesterday.
He said: “Some people will say we’re going to be going too fast, some people will say we’re going too slow.”
He promised any lifting would be cautious and irreversible – so that Britain wouldn’t have to go back into another lockdown.
And Matt Hancock echoed his words, adding: “No. We need to see the effects of each step, and that takes five weeks.”
Some in Government have suggested the dates may be more fluid if the vaccine rollout goes better than planned.
Ministers have promised to get all British adults a first jab by the end of July.