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Lockdown ‘to last until the spring but Christmas off’

LOCKDOWN restrictions are likely to continue until the spring but may be lifted for a week over Christmas, according to leaked emails from a former government adviser.

Lobbyist George Pascoe-Watson (pictured), the chairman of Portland Communications, made the predictions in messages to paying clients last month.

One was sent on October 15, just after the former journalist stepped down from an unpaid role as a consultant for the Test and Trace scheme. Tier two restrictions had been announced that day for areas including London. And Mr Pascoe-Watson wrote: ‘The decision-makers have told me personally that spring is likely to be the first opportunity to lift the restrictions.’

In another message sent on October 29, the day before news of the second England-wide lockdown leaked out in the media, he wrote that No.10 would ‘sacrifice November to save December’.

He added: ‘They are then weighing up a week’s break from restrictions over Christmas — during which people will have to take responsibility for their own behaviour.’

The government has insisted the lockdown will end in early December but has warned that regional tiered restrictions may return after that.

The emails have fuelled concerns about government use of PR firms that profit from inside knowledge.

Mr Pascoe-Watson was appointed in April without any public process, The Sunday Times said. Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, called for an inquiry and described it as an ‘insult to the British people’.

Mr Pascoe-Watson denied any wrongdoing and said the information he provided ‘was in no way connected to the Test and Trace calls, in which I was no longer a participant’.

He said he was ‘proud to have added professional insight to such an important national asset’ and had fully declared his role at Portland to the Department of Health.