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Boris Johnson facing growing backbench revolt over England tiers

Calls for district-wide not county-wide approach

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Wednesday 25 November 2020 12:39 GMT
Boris Johnson says ‘things will look different after Easter’ in coronavirus update

Boris Johnson is facing a growing revolt from Conservative backbenchers demanding their areas do not face the toughest coronavirus restrictions when the latest system is unveiled.  

With lockdown in England due to end next week, ministers will shortly set out new limitations for every part of the country.  

The prime minister has already warned of a “hard winter” ahead for many as the UK struggles to bring the pandemic under control.  

All parts of England will be placed in one of three tiers, as they were before lockdown.  

However, each tier has been made significantly stricter since last month.  

In the latest in a series of demands from within his own party, Kent MPs have demanded different boroughs or districts are placed in different tiers.  

A letter signed by seven Kent MPs warns that while some districts have some of the highest infection rates in the country overall, “cases are low in many parts” of the county.  

The group warns that businesses should not be hit by tough restrictions designed to cut case numbers at the other end of the county.  

Similar arguments have been made for London, where some believe parts of the capital should be placed only in the second highest tier.  

The highest tier would spell devastating hardship for the hospitality industry, it has been warned. 

In the highest tier, pubs and restaurants would be forced to close with only takeaway and delivery sales allowed.  

Under tier 2, however, hospitality venues can remain if serving “substantial meals”.  

William Wragg, the Tory MP for Hazel Grove, has also said his constituency should be treated independently from the rest of Greater Manchester, arguing: “We need to make sure that local Covid data is used when decisions are being made about tiers.”

The highly influential chair of a Conservative backbench committee has already said he is “inclined” to vote against proposals for regional restrictions.  

Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, said the government had failed to provide the impact assessments demanded by 70 Tory MPs to justify placing regions the new system.  

The judgement on tiers will be based on advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre. 

Ministers insist there will be no negotiations with local MPs or councils.

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