BORIS Johnson is facing a Tory rebellion over the government’s Tier Three lockdown plans for the north of England.
Backbencher MPs have backed the Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham who accused the Government of treating the North “with contempt” by bringing in unproven measures, carried out “on the cheap”.
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The Prime Minister is expected to announce the restrictions as early as this afternoon.
The new measures would see pubs close and prevent households from mixing even in gardens.
The latest measures in England, which will see half of the country in lockdown, sparked fury among Conservative MPs who accused the PM of smuggling in a national lockdown by the back door.
They believe he has sacrificed businesses in London to kill off claims he was punishing the North with a stricter lockdown.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, who represents Altrincham and Sale West in Greater Manchester, lent his voice to the growing discontent.
“The case has not been made for Greater Manchester to move into a Tier Three lockdown,” he said.
Fellow Tory William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove in Manchester, said health ministers had “achieved the impossible” by uniting local politicians of all parties against the government’s plans.
“The meeting we had earlier today was entirely pointless and we may as well have talked to a wall quite frankly,” he said
“The closure of hospitality will drive people into private dwellings where they will mix, we do not thank goodness live in a police state for that is the only way to police it.
“Can they please listen to common sense and think again?”
“There is widespread concern amongst MPs, council leaders and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, all resisting the suggestion that Tier Three should be introduced.’
Jake Berry, former minister for the Northern Powerhouse, and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said many people in the region already “don’t know or understand what the rules are” because they are on the “twentieth set of rules”
Mr Berry last night pointed out that following last year’s election triumph, the Tories now have 80 Northern MPs, adding: “They are the Prime Minister’s majority and, bluntly, he needs to look after us.”
Another 11 .5million Brits will be under draconian controls as London, much of Essex and large parts of the North are put into Tier Two Covid restrictions.
But last night No 10 angrily rejected the claim that it was protecting London at the expense of the North by warning the virus numbers are going the wrong way in the capital.
‘WE MUST ACT’
London, Essex, York, Chesterfield, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire and Erewash, Derbys, will all go into Tier Two from 12.01am tomorrow.
People will be banned from meeting indoors anyone with whom they do not live. This includes in pubs and other venues.
They can meet outside but the rule of six applies.
It comes after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock told leaders to put “party politics aside” and agree extra measures to control the virus.
“We must act,” he said.
“The situation in the North West of England is severe.
‘FLAWED AND UNFAIR’
“The number of cases is rising exponentially. The number of people in hospital with Covid has doubled in just the last 12 days.”
Mr Hancock urged local leaders to “set aside this party politics” and “work with us to put in place the measures that are needed in Greater Manchester, across the north west, so that we can deal with this virus and support people through it.”
He told ITV News: “This is a time for people to come together so that we can control this virus.”
But Mr Burnham launched a blistering attack on Downing Street’s plans to put Manchester and Lancashire into a “flawed and unfair” Tier 3 lockdown, while flanked by fellow leaders in the city this afternoon.
It comes after MPs, leaders and No10’s talks broke down amid fire and fury as they failed to thrash out a financial deal for the region.
Mr Burnham said today he wanted an 80 per cent furlough scheme for all affected workers, 80 per cent income support for the self-employed and a proper compensation scheme for businesses in the event of a Tier 3 lockdown.
It comes as:
The furious mayor said: “The only certain thing to work is a national lockdown.
“The Government told us this morning it is unwilling to do that due to the damage it will do to the national economy and yet… they are willing to sacrifice jobs and businesses here to try and save them elsewhere.”
Mr Burnham ended his fiery statement by adamantly saying: “It won’t work.
“It will level down the regions and make the recovery much harder. This is an important moment, Greater Manchester will stand firm.
“We are fighting back for fairness and for the health of our people in the broadest sense.”
Around 1.5 million people living in the Liverpool City region are already in Tier 3.
And more than 3.5million people would be affected if Greater Manchester and Lancashire were moved to the “very high” risk Tier 3.
Households would be banned from mixing both indoors and outdoors and pubs would be closed.
The Government ultimately has the power to make the decision regardless, but had wanted to “take regional leaders” with them when imposing Tier 2 and 3 measures.
Sources have said despite the huge pushback from leaders, including some from his own party, Boris Johnson is likely to still impose Tier 3 on the regions.
But it would be particularly hard to enforce the strictest measures without the backing from local authorities to ensure residents stick to the rules.
‘WE DO NOT ACCEPT’
After making his position clear, Mr Burnham said: “[It] is a decision for the Government. The ball is in their court, they will have to decide.”
Amid furious discussions with ministers Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, said earlier there was “unanimous fury” over “the process, the evidence base and the economic support” offered.
She argued Manchester has “lived in tier two for weeks now and it has not worked”.
Some Lancashire Labour MPs have today claimed the region will remain in Tier 2, but no official decision has yet been made.
They fear it would be a “hammer blow” to the economy to impose more rules on their residents, as they implore Downing Street to reconsider.
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Latest figures from Monday show there are 449.3 Covid cases per 100,000 in Greater Manchester and 423.4 cases per 100,000 in West Lancashire.
Mr Johnson rejected the idea of a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on Monday but said “we must act now” to stop infection levels in local areas continuing to spiral out of control.
The crucial test for putting an area into Tier 3 lockdowns is whether local NHS services will be quickly become overwhelmed to the point where they are unable to carry out other essential health checks and procedures.
We’ll win but not this way
By Chris Green, MP for Bolton West
LOCKDOWNS as a cure for coronavirus are worse than the disease.
I have seen the misery they cause to people’s mental and physical
wellbeing plus livelihoods and businesses.
That is why, with sadness, I’ve resigned from the Government.
I’ve watched my constituents suffer as Bolton was placed under some of the toughest local restrictions — with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve takeaways only.
The reduction in footfall on the high street has driven businesses under while others are on the brink of collapse.
Yet all through these local restrictions, transmission rates went up and up and up.
We will get through this crisis — but repeated lockdowns are not the solution.