Boris Johnson is set to win the crunch vote on new coronavirus restrictions as Labour has refused to back Conservative rebels.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said on Monday the party would be abstaining in Tuesday’s Commons vote on the new system for suppressing the illness.
The prime minister is facing a rebellion from Conservative MPs over new tiered restrictions that kick in on Wednesday once a second national lockdown ends.
Up to 100 Tories are thought to be unhappy about the new approach for England, which MPs will vote on tomorrow.
Labour abstaining means the government are poised to win the vote.
Starmer said: “Coronavirus remains a serious threat to the public’s health and that’s why Labour accept the need for continued restrictions. We will always act in the national interest, so we will not vote against these restrictions in Parliament tomorrow.
“However, I remain deeply concerned that Boris Johnson’s government has failed to use this latest lockdown to put a credible health and economic plan in place.
“We still don’t have a functioning testing system, public health messaging is confused, and businesses across the country are crying out for more effective economic support to get them through the winter months. It is short-term government incompetence that is causing long-term damage to the British economy.
“It is imperative that the government gets control of the virus so that our NHS can be protected and our economy recovers faster.”
But the government has accused Starmer of “playing politics”.
“This pandemic is one of the biggest challenges facing the country in decades and Labour have decided to abstain on it,” a No 10 spokesman said.
“While Keir Starmer claims he offers new leadership, it’s clear to all that he actually offers no leadership at all.
“Keir Starmer is playing politics in the middle of a global pandemic instead of working with the government to find a way through this difficult time for the British people.”