In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, the MPs urge the Prime Minister to spare the capital because shutting it down would hurt not just Londoners, but ‘people across the nation’ who depend on the ‘wealth and prosperity generated by our great city’.
A decision on whether to plunge London into the highest lockdown before Christmas was going to the wire this weekend, with a row brewing with Ministers after police and local councils objected to plans to divide London into different tiers.
With the capital’s businesses saying tier 3 would deliver a £3 billion hit to the economy, Ministers including Michael Gove have suggested that only the outer London boroughs with the highest infection rates should go in to the top tier.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also understood to be considering splitting the worst-hit parts of the capital off into tier 3 but leaving the majority of the city in tier 2.
It would mean restaurants and other hospitality businesses in London’s West End could stay open, while those in suburban areas would close.
Andrew Bridgen, the North-West Leicestershire Tory MP, revealed Mr Hancock had already told him a more localised approach would be taken in his area.
London ‘s Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson not to inflict ‘untold damage’ on the capital by moving it into a tier 3 lockdown this week
Experts and jail insiders are said to believe Covid-19 outbreaks in nearby Kent prisons may have been a ‘catalyst’ for London’s rise in cases. This chart is from November 7: An outbreak in Sheppey East where the cases increased by 144 per cent and saw the Swale area have a rolling rate of 303. HM Prison Swaleside is located near the village of Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey
November 21: Infection rates increase to more than 400 cases per 100,000 in The Isle of Sheppey and surrounding areas in Kent
December 5: Areas between south London and Kent see their cases rise in areas such as Dartford and Greenwich
London’s Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson not to inflict ‘untold damage’ on the capital by moving it into a tier 3 lockdown this week. Pictured: Christmas shoppers flock to Regent Street in London’s West End on Saturday
His local authority – currently in the same tier 3 high-virus area as the city of Leicester but with lower Covid rates – is likely to be placed in a lower category of controls this week.
Mr Bridgen said he asked Mr Hancock yesterday in a text message what he could do to help and the Health Secretary replied: ‘We are de-linking you from Leicester.’
It came as:
- The number of daily recorded deaths rose to 519 – up from 397 last Saturday. There were 21,502 new positive cases, an increase of 38 per cent from last Saturday.
- Scientists urged people to ‘rethink’ Christmas gatherings that are ‘not worth the risk’.
- London’s Regent Street was packed with Christmas shoppers yesterday as Britons spent an estimated £3 million every minute to give the High Street a boost amid fears of a shortage of toys caused in part by chaos at Britain’s ports.
- Sixty-seven local authorities in the highest tier 3 level received approval for rapid turnaround lateral flow tests to help them lower infection rates.
- The US regulator approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine but the European Medicines Agency appeared little closer to giving it the green light.
In a pre-emptive strike ahead of a review of the capital’s restrictions, six senior Conservatives signed the letter, organised by Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, which warned that many London Tory MPs could vote against the Government’s Covid approach when it is reviewed next month if the city is plunged into tier 3.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is understood to be considering splitting the worst-hit parts of the capital off into tier 3 but leaving the majority of the city in tier 2
Separately, Nickie Aiken, the Conservative MP whose constituency includes the West End, said tier 3 would be a ‘disaster’ for London and destroy livelihoods.
Mr Blackman said last night he supported the proposal to split London into different tiers, adding: ‘The least-affected areas should not be governed by the worst-affected areas.’
He said he would vote against renewing the current anti-Covid regime next month if London was forced into tier 3, and warned that many other London Tory MPs would do the same.
However, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it would be a ‘mistake’ to put even some London boroughs into tier 3.
Sir Iain, MP for Chingford and Woodford Green in North-East London, warned that the virus increases in his area were among schoolchildren – not the elderly population more at risk.
Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week
A total of 481,500 patients had coronavirus in the seven days up to December 5, down from 521,300 the week prior (8 per cent), according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
Andrew Bridgen, the North-West Leicestershire Tory MP, revealed Mr Hancock had already told him a more localised approach would be taken in his area. Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it would be a ‘mistake’ to put even some London boroughs into tier 3
And Ms Aiken said the approach of dividing the capital into different restriction zones would be ‘near impossible to police’.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma have raised concerns over plunging the capital into tier 3.
But the police and councils say they are too over-stretched to monitor movements between the tiers, and fear it could cause public order issues.
MailOnline’s analysis of Government figures show London is now recording more cases per day, for its size, than 27 of 61 authorities currently living under Tier Three curbs, including Nottingham, Leeds, Leicestershire, Bristol, Newcastle and Derby
Ministers will make the decision on Wednesday after studying the latest data, with the changes taking effect on Saturday. They will be reviewed again after a fortnight.
The MPs’ letter highlighted the Government’s own estimate last month that 550,000 jobs would have been at risk if London had been put in tier 3 last month.
They warned: ‘It would be a false choice to pit lives against livelihoods when it comes to deciding which Covid restrictions should apply in London.
‘We believe the Government can both protect lives and livelihoods with a more measured approach of keeping our capital open while also bearing down on this terrible virus.’