CHRISTMAS Covid killjoys were told to back off tonight after police threatened to break up festive family gatherings.
Tory MPs urged ministers to halt the heavy-handed approach.
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Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “It’s time for the Government to stand down these jobsworth Christmas turkeys.”
Many spoke out amid a furious backlash after threats by cops to break up festive family gatherings.
Cabinet ministers also backed calls to ruin Christmas Day.
The row exploded amid devastating new warnings from medics of 85,000 further second wave deaths by the spring, and the daily death toll hitting 500 by December.
Senior Tory MP David Jones said: “All people want is a quiet, happy Christmas with their families. They’ve had a dreadful year, so let’s give them a break.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith added: “This is utter nonsense. This is not some totalitarian state like China. It’s time for the Government to stand down these jobsworth Christmas turkeys.”
For a second day running, more than 300 perished from the virus, sending a chill through Downing Street and sparking dire warnings of a yuletide lockdown.
Some hospitals in Liverpool, Lancashire and Nottingham are now treating more coronavirus patients than they did in April.
Ministers admitted for the first time publicly that “families coming together in large gatherings” could be broken up by the law this Christmas.
Environment Minister George Eustice warned: “If necessary we will have to put regulation in place.” But his comments sparked fury among other MPs.
His chilling threat flew in the face of Boris Johnson’s vow last month to do all he could to protect Christmas celebrations.
The Sage scientific advisory body has warned the PM the second wave of the virus is spreading faster than they previously feared and predictions of a peak in the New Year have been brought forward to December.
Mr Eustice’s stern warning came as some police chiefs boasted they will break into Brits’ homes to break up Christmas family gatherings if they flout lockdown rules.
In an extraordinary sign of the lengths forces are prepared to go, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said his officers would investigate reports of rule-breaking even on Christmas Day.
And three of the country’s other biggest police forces covering London, Greater Manchester and Merseyside said they could break up Christmas dinners as “a last resort”.
But there were fears the festive season could be governed by a postcode lottery this year as the 43 police forces in England and Wales are planning to take starkly different approaches.
The boss of the National Police Chiefs Council Martin Hewitt said forces across the country will enforce coronavirus laws “as they see fit” over the Christmas period, and could “take whatever action is appropriate in the circumstances”.
Others covering Warwickshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall signalled they would take a much softer approach to enforcing the rules.
The panic over Christmas was sparked by elected Labour politician Mr Jamieson.
He warned: “If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene.
“If there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.”
The menacing comments sparked a furious reaction in Westminster.
Another Tory MP, Steve Baker, said: “This attitude of breaking up people’s private Christmas dinners is beyond all reason. We used to understand that certain freedoms were worth preserving at any price.
“It’s down to Conservatives and especially Conservative ministers to save Christmas and make life worth living.”
The warnings came as leading Sage scientist Sir Mark Walport confirmed The Sun’s revelations that 25,000 will soon be in hospital with the bug, saying the figure was “certainly not unrealistic”.
New details of what the scientists have warned the PM were revealed by the Spectator magazine.
According to a “reasonable worst- case scenario” planning document directly shaping No10’s reaction to the virus, the UK is facing “a difficult autumn followed by a large winter peak”.
Sage believes deaths could peak at around 800 a day in late February and 5,000 may be in intensive care in England by March.
Meanwhile, some experts warned that policing a Christmas lockdown could be near impossible. And a YouGov poll found many families would be prepared to break the rules to spend it together.
A Downing Street source said: “We all want to see families being able to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the holidays together this year. That’s why our regional approach is so important — we must act quickly to introduce further necessary measures that are targeted in areas where prevalence of the virus is highest.”
Almost a million in England are now living with Covid, it emerged.
Imperial College London’s huge infection survey found cases remain most common in the North — but are rising fastest in London.
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