“Bolton’s lockdown clearly hasn’t worked, and I think the cure is worse than the disease,” Chris Green, an aide to the Lords leader, told the Prime Minister.
Bolton has been under some of the toughest lockdown restrictions for many weeks, with pubs and restaurants allowed to only serve take-out.
In a letter of resignation, Mr Green said he had “failed to control the number of positive tests in the borough of Bolton which have inexorably increased”.
He pointed out the prime minister suggesting that such measures would be needed for six months – and argued that the risk of coronavirus could not justify it.
“The damage to physical and mental health as well as to livelihoods and businesses would be justified if the threat of Covid-19 were as initially suggested,” wrote the parliamentary private secretary.
“I know this new pandemic virus posed a serious but poorly understood threat, but we have learned a lot since it emerged.”
The resignation exposed opposition on the Tory benches to further lockdowns – even as Keir Starmer urged Mr Johnson to go in the opposite direction, with a two-week ‘cut’ of tough measures.
It came as Tory backbenchers criticized the strategy in the House of Commons, as MPs debated the new three-tier system designed to clarify Covid-19 restrictions.
The system was approved – but 82 MPs, including 42 Tory rebels, voted against the 10 p.m. pub curfew, but failed to prevent it from being approved.
Mr Green, who was first elected to Bolton West headquarters in 2015, pointed to ‘20,000 fewer GP referrals’ since the first lockdown and many more ‘too scared’ to seek treatment.
And he hinted at support for last week’s Great Barrington statement, which called for a return to “life as normal” for all the most vulnerable – while herd immunity builds.
“There is a healthy debate about how we can eliminate this coronavirus or how we can live with it and it is being led by many academics, epidemiologists and other prominent specialists,” Green wrote.
“I think there are better alternatives to the government approach, so I submit my resignation.
The herd immunity approach has been strongly criticized by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of Health, who told MPs: “Many infectious diseases never reach herd immunity, such as measles and malaria and AIDS and influenza.
He also rejected suggestions that the elderly and vulnerable should be isolated, adding: “We are not the kind of country that abandons our vulnerable people or just locks them up.”