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Brits poke fun at looming Plan B curbs with tongue-in-cheek memes

Online jokers today poked fun at discussion over new coronavirus restrictions being imposed for England under what the Government has called 'Plan B'.

Twitter users pointed out that the planned measures share their name with the 38-year-old London rapper and actor Plan B, real name Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew.

Posting a picture of the Harry Brown star, one social media user joked: 'Who on earth would have thought it was up to this man to get us out of Covid?'

Others said that it was time to 'dust off' their NHS Covid app amid the spread of the Omicron variant, while calling for 'Plan P = Party, Party, Party'.

And another posted a photograph of wine and cheese, saying: 'Just getting my alibi in, ready for Plan B, should the police come knocking.'

This was a reference to footage that emerged last night of senior No 10 aides joking about a Downing Street Christmas party during last December's Tier 3 restrictions. 

During the video, one aide is heard saying: 'It wasn't a party, it was cheese and wine.' And another replied: 'Is cheese and wine all right? It was a business meeting.' 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Cabinet would be consulted before new restrictions are imposed in response to rising Covid-19 cases. 

He is believed to be considering measures including guidance to work from home and the introduction of domestic vaccine passports for events and large venues.

Downing Street sources insisted 'no decisions have been made' but there is widespread speculation that further measures could be imminent.

But the timing is being viewed in suspicion in Westminster, coming as the Prime Minister was forced to apologise after footage emerged of senior aides joking about a Downing Street Christmas party during last December's lockdown.

Referencing this, one Twitter user asked: 'Do Plan B rules involve a party at No 10, Boris?' And another said: 'Sorry love, you've completely lost the room.'

At Prime Minister's Questions, senior Tory William Wragg challenged Mr Johnson about reports that a Cabinet meeting and press conference were planned 'to initiate Covid winter Plan B'.

The chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee told the PM: 'Very few will be convinced by this diversionary tactic.' 

The Prime Minister told him: 'No decisions will be taken without consulting the Cabinet.'

A prominent member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned that a full UK-wide lockdown to deal with the threat of the Omicron variant cannot be ruled out, although the current threat posed by the strain remains unclear.

The Government has so far insisted it is not time to activate its Plan B - the restrictions that would be brought in to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed this winter.

But Omicron may have changed those calculations in Downing Street, with Mr Johnson telling the Cabinet on Tuesday that 'early indications were that it was more transmissible' than the Delta strain.

Restrictions could play a role in slowing the spread of the variant in order to allow more time for the booster jab vaccination campaign to progress. 

Sage member Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose data was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, said the variant is concerning but it is still unknown what its impact will be on severe disease.

He suggested people may be told to work from home in the near future as Omicron is spreading fast, with the variant set to take over from the Delta strain before Christmas.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson apologised after footage emerged of his then spokeswoman Allegra Stratton joking about a December 2020 party at a mock press conference just days after the alleged event.

He ordered an investigation by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case 'to establish all the facts and to report back as soon as possible - and it goes without saying that if those rules were broken then there will be disciplinary action for all those involved'.

But he insisted again that he had been 'repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken'.