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Amid the PUBS, shops and even hospitals staffs shortages by mid-January, top medics warned ministers last night as Tory MPs gave Boris Johnson a humiliating Commons bloody nose.
98 Conservative rebelled against the introduction of vaccine passports to clubs and stadiums in a massive show of force against further Covid restrictions.
At a testy private meeting of his MPs, Mr Johnson repeatedly insisted he did not want any further lockdown measures, but warned they had to face up to Omicron reality of a “huge spike” coming.
And he promised MPs they would get a vote in an emergency Christmas Commons recall if things became “dramatically worse.”
But his pleas fell on deaf ears for almost half of his backbenchers who voted against vaccine passports yesterday – which only passed thanks to Labour votes.
Ahead of the defeat ministers and MPs were given doomsday warnings of a January of closures – even without a lockdown.
In a “bleak” update to Cabinet on Tuesday morning the PM and chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned the new variant is set to spark massive staff shortages across Britain.
They told the meeting – which was held virtually for the first time in months due to the spread of the strain – things are looking “very bad”.
The pair said that even on “the most conservative” estimates the virus is set to unleash a tidal wave of new cases and hospitalisations – and hundreds of thousands forced off work and into isolation with the bug.
And Prof Whitty wanted NHS workers face being hospitalised themselves as Omicron peaks in January.
Last night No 10 denied suggestions that top docs had warned some ministers that the sheer number of isolating doctors and nurses could become so bad that some hospitals risk being closed.
But MPs fear No10 is waiting for MPs to go home for Christmas on Thursday before effectively plunging England back into a version of lockdown.