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Boris deserves credit for trying to avoid full lockdown, but it’s time MPs had a say in crisis this grave

BORIS Johnson is battling desperately to avoid a ruinous second national lockdown. He at least deserves credit for that.

His top scientist and his chief medic would clearly go far further than the new curbs the PM will unveil today.

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But nothing in the speculative, doom-laden charts Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance offered up yesterday remotely justifies a repeat of the freedom- crushing restrictions imposed in March.

Indeed even when it comes to how much Covid might spread by mid- October, your guess is as good as theirs.

Cases might double every week to 50,000 a day, they say, with daily deaths at 200. Then again they might not.

And even that death toll — terrible as it would be — would be far lower than in the dark days of April.

Our daily new infections back then were probably an astronomical number dwarfing 50,000 too. We’ll never know because testing was virtually non-existent.

Besides, say the experts, we might ­follow the gentler upward curves of France and Spain, doubling much more slowly and with far fewer deaths. And there might even be a vaccine around Christmas. But, again, who knows?

Only these things are certain: Cases and hospitalisations are rising. Deaths, at 11 yesterday, remain very low. And scientists are panicky after the flak they took for their complacency in the spring.

Boris could ignore them entirely, we suppose, and do nothing. But if deaths did soar, what then?

We don’t believe any PM would take that gamble on so many lives. So today he will hope to slow the spread via 10pm early closing for pubs and restaurants.

Home-workers, urged only last month to return to the office, will instead be told to stay put.

It is all a further battering for an economy already fighting for life after the first lockdown. Its only merit is that it could be worse. We will say this too:

Too many critical decisions are now being taken without Commons debate. Too many vital questions need scrutiny.

Why would the NHS, with its vast spare capacity, be “overwhelmed”, as Prof Whitty claims? It wasn’t in April, far from it.

Indeed when will it turn its attention to its vast backlogs of patients with deadly non-Covid conditions?

And, while we accept that too many people ignore basic anti-Covid rules, do we not risk turning into a police state where cops shut pubs and issue monstrous fines for “rule of six” flouters?

In a national crisis this grave, we need strategies Parliament has weighed up, voted on and taken ownership of.

We hope Boris’s measures work, though we are sceptical about their impact.

Whatever the result, Britain must not be driven further into the economic abyss without MPs having a say.

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