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Labour MP explains his defiance of whip to vote against Tory tiers

THE government’s new system of coronavirus restrictions will have a punishing effect on local economies, a Labour MP warned today.

The Labour Party had whipped MPs to abstain from voting on the Tories’ tougher system of post-lockdown tier restrictions, set to take effect tomorrow. 

But Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris, during a Commons debate before the vote, criticised the government for its “clear tactic” of putting opposition MPs under pressure to vote for the “not fit for purpose” system hours before it was due to come into force.

He said that the plans were effectively a “third lockdown” as north-east England is placed in Tier 3, the tier that will see most businesses remain closed, while receiving “insufficient” funding.

Mr Morris added that areas to be put into Tier 3 are being punished for “nine months of U-turn after U-turn on public health” by PM Boris Johnson.

The Tories have a Commons majority of 80, but scores of Conservative MPs were expected to rebel over the plans, and 11 Liberal Democrats were set to vote against it.

Several Labour MPs had told the Morning Star that they were unsure about the plans, which they branded “deeply flawed.”

Leeds East MP Richard Burgon said on Monday that he would be voting against them, adding that the blanket lockdown ought to be extended.

The vote took place after the Star went to print, but England’s second round of tiered restrictions was expected to be approved.

Labour MPs Cat Smith, for Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, for Streatham, raised concern in the Commons over the economies of the north of England not being taken into consideration when they were put into Tier 3, with many constituencies having lower rates of infection than the majority of London, which is in Tier 2.

During a debate before the vote, Mr Johnson accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of telling the Labour Party to “sit on its hands.”

In his response, Sir Keir said that there is “deep disappointment” and “raw anger” over the economic package promised to communities by the government as it “is nowhere-near sufficient.”

Sir Keir also said that there are “real risks” that the new tier system will be “incapable of controlling the virus this winter,” and that Mr Johnson had “failed to fix the major problems” with the privately run track and trace system that cost taxpayers £22 billion.

He also raised concern over only one in eight workers being eligible for the one-off £500 self-isolation support. Those not eligible have to claim Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 a week – about £13 a day. 


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