Boris Johnson in compilation image with social distancing sign.

The PM received a letter from 70 Tory MPs who have demanded evidence that tougher restrictions are justified (Picture: Getty)

Boris Johnson is facing a backbench revolt after dozens of Tory MPs said they would not back his plans for a strict post-lockdown tier system in England without ‘extensive evidence’.

The Prime Minister has been warned in a letter from the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) – formed this month by Conservative MPs who were opposed to the second lockdown – that he will have to provide a cost-benefit analysis to prove the restrictions ‘will save more lives than they cost’. The letter is said to have been signed by 70 Tory MPs.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sunday suggested that providing the evidence the MPs have demanded will be difficult, meaning Conservative’s support for the tougher restrictions will likely pose a significant challenge. However, if Labour supoorts the move – as it has done with previous government restrictions – they will easily pass through Parliament.

Mr Johnson will reveal his ‘winter Covid plan’ to MPs on Monday, setting out a return to tiered restrictions that will replace England’s national lockdown on December 2, and how families across the UK will be able to spend the festive period together.

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Downing Street has said more areas around the country are likely to enter higher tiers next month, with rules in all tiers to be toughened to prevent the loss of any progress made during the four-week lockdown.

It is understood the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be changed, giving customers an extra hour to finish their food and drinks. Mr Sunak confirmed on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that plans to alter the curfew are ‘definitely something we’re looking at’.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Britain's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference on the coronavirus pandemic in the UK inside 10 Downing Street on November 9, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Tolga Akmen - WPA pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson plans to introduce a tier system with stricter rules than before (Picture: Getty Images)

Asked if the Government will provide the evidence the CRG has demanded, Mr Sunak told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘It’s very hard to be precise in estimating the particular impact of a one-week restriction.’

The CRG’s warning against strict measures inflicting ‘huge health and economic costs’ came in a letter to the Prime Minister on Saturday, which sources close to the group said had been signed by 70 Conservative MPs – though only the group’s leaders, former Brexit minister Steve Baker and ex-chief whip Mark Harper, were identified as signatories.

When a vote on the current lockdown was held in the Commons earlier this month, 32 Conservatives voted against the measures and 17 more, including former prime minister Theresa May, abstained.

Thirty-two Tory MPs voted against the current national lockdown (Picture: Getty Images)

The Government is optimistic that Covid restrictions can be gradually relaxed in the run-up to spring, and plan for vaccinations to begin rolling out from next month, providing the vaccine gets approval for UK use.

The Prime Minister is likely hoping the easing of restrictions at Christmas and potential vaccines on the horizon will minimise the scale of any rebellion, with SAGE expected to publish papers on Monday suggesting the previous tier system was not strict enough.

But the CRG letter said: ‘We cannot live under such a series of damaging lockdowns and apparently arbitrary restrictions and expect our constituents to be grateful for being let out to enjoy the festive season, only to have strict restrictions imposed on them afterwards that cause them health problems and destroy their livelihood.’

The Government is looking at changing the curfew time for pubs and restaurants (Picture: Getty Images)

A full-scale Commons defeat on the plan is unlikely, with Labour so far showing support for the implementation of coronavirus measures to slow the rate of infection.

SAGE expert Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter told Times Radio it is ‘perfectly reasonable’ to return to a tiered approach after lockdown, but warned that relaxing national restrictions over Christmas will have costs.

He said: ‘There will be a price to pay for it, obviously, you relax restrictions and infection rates go up, you constrain and infection rates will come down as they are going down at the moment.’

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