Ministers have sought to head off a potentially damaging parliamentary defeat on Coronavirus by dangling an offer of further scrutiny of the government’s actions in front of Conservative rebels.
Health secretary Matt Hancock also announced he planned to meet the leader of the rebels on his own party’s benches, Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 group of Tory MPs.
But there was frustration among Tory MPs as bans on loud music, singing and dancing, imposed as part of new emergency coronavirus rules, came into force just hours before Mr Hancock took to his feet in the Commons.
In an angry speech Sir Desmond Swayne, the Tory MP for New Forest West, said recent measures taken by the government had left him wondering if the prime minister had been “abducted by Dr Strangelove”.
He added that a presentation by the chief medical officer and the chief scientist last week, warning of the spread of the disease, was “Project Fear” and should have been a “sacking offence”.