PM attempts to quell fury as dozens of Tory MPs complain about tier system

Politics

Boris Johnson has sought to fight off a growing backlash among Conservative MPs about the new coronavirus tiers, declaring that the “vast majority” of the British public support the measures.

“I totally understand why people feel frustrated, I get that,” the prime minister said about the COVID-19 restrictions.

Search your area on this map to find out which tier it has been placed in

“But I really, really hope that people also understand that I think the vast majority of the British public want us to work hard, do the right thing and beat the virus together.”

According to a tally by Sky News, at least 50 Tory MPs have gone public with their concerns over tiering or have said they are unlikely to support the measures when it comes to a vote.

It comes after it was revealed that 99% of England’s population will fall under the two toughest tiers when the second national lockdown ends on 2 December.

Several senior Conservatives have urged the government to publish analysis of the impact that these tightened rules will have on reducing infection rates – as well as the effect it will have on people’s livelihoods and the wider business community.

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About 32 million people – covering 57.3% of England – will fall into Tier 2. But 23.3 million people – 41.5% of the population – are going to be placed in Tier 3 from 2 December.

Large parts of the Midlands, the North East and the North West will be subject to the severest measures. Hospitality venues will be closed in the run-up to Christmas unless they can provide takeaway or delivery services, and households are forbidden from mixing indoors.

But figures suggest that, of the 119 areas that will be in Tier 3 from next week, only eight have reported a rise in coronavirus cases.

Mr Johnson stressed that he understood people’s frustrations, but defended the strengthened tiers.

“I know it’s very frustrating for people who feel that they’re in a high tier area when there’s very little incidence in their village or their area. I totally understand why people feel so frustrated,” the PM said.

“But the difficulty is that if you did it any other way, first of all you’d divide the country up into loads and loads of very complicated sub divisions.

“There’s got to be some simplicity and some clarity in the way that we do this.

“The second problem is that, alas, our experience is that when a high incidence area is quite close to a low incidence area, unless you beat the problem in the high incidence area the low incidence area, I’m afraid, starts to catch up.”

Mr Johnson’s comments come after one of his ministers said some parts of England could have their coronavirus restrictions eased before Christmas.

The coronavirus tiers are due to be reviewed by the government on 16 December.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there was “every reason” to believe some areas could be moved down the tier system.

The PM echoed this, saying there “really is the prospect” of that happening.

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