Tory Black Country MPs back tough tier action to suppress coronavirus

Conservative MPs in the Black Country have backed the new tiered system and warned a third lockdown could be on the cards unless Covid-19 is brought under control.

Boris Johnson and, inset, the rate of coronavirus infection in the West Midlands since September 1
Boris Johnson and, inset, the rate of coronavirus infection in the West Midlands since September 1

The current national lockdown ends on Wednesday but strict new measures are being brought in to replace it.

The Prime Minister angered some of his party with the new plan - which will see almost all of England under Tier 2 or Tier 3 - and has since written to MPs as he seeks to head off a backbench rebellion.

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the plan, but no MPs in the Black Country or Staffordshire have suggested they will vote against it.

All of the region will be placed in Tier 3 from Wednesday, meaning the strictest rules will be in place.

People will not be able to mix in houses or gardens and pubs will remain closed under the new system, which MPs will be able to vote on tomorrow.

More Covid-19 coverage:

In a bid to prevent a Commons rebellion, the Prime Minister has told MPs the tier system will have an expiry date of February 3 – and he hopes the country can return to some sense of normality by Easter.

In a letter to his MPs, Boris Johnson said rules could be eased in December, MPs could vote again in January, and the tier system could end in February.

He warned, however, there would be “disastrous consequences” for the NHS if the Government did not introduce the new tiered system when lockdown ends.

'We have to pull together'

The MP for Wolverhampton South West, Stuart Anderson, is hoping the Black Country could go down to Tier 2 if “everyone comes together”.

He said: “We’re in desperate times. The rates have been so high we’ve had to go into a national lockdown, and if we ease this too quickly we will be in another lockdown.

"So it’s about putting measures in place until we have the vaccine, until the testing is ramped up more.

"We have to pull together as a country, if every MP got their own way and had their area in Tier 1 then we won't control the virus.

“The R-rate is dropping in Wolverhampton, I want to see it drop down to Tier 2 by December 16 when the next review is.”

Conservative MPs Shaun Bailey, left, and Stuart Anderson, were both elected last year

Shaun Bailey, MP for West Bromwich West, said he believed Mr Johnson was doing “the right thing” reaching out to MPs.

He said: “Of course there are concerns, but I think he has done the right thing to try and quell anger and get people on board. We’ve got the vaccine coming hopefully, the effort going into that really makes an impact.

“We’ve had restrictions in some form or another since September, it’s been a tough one. There’s definitely a degree of fatigue around these restrictions now and it’s about making sure we get through this as quick as possible.

“Most people are playing by the rules – it’s disappointing to see some people aren’t, I have raised this in Commons. It’s a really tough one, there’s no denying that.”

And Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South, added: “Our infection rates are still among the highest in the country, and Covid patients are taking up more than a quarter of beds in local hospital before the normal winter pressures, so we clearly need to continue with measures to keep infections falling.

"But we do need to be sure that the restrictions that are being proposed - which will have an impact on families and businesses across the region - will have the effect we want, and that means that the medical experts need to produce the evidence to show the specific restrictions are necessary.

"If they are sure that this really is the only way to get the virus under control then the Government will need to come forward with further support for those businesses that are forced to close, to make sure that they are still there to reopen when we finally beat this pandemic."

'Ideology should not come into it'

Meanwhile Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: "Of course people want to see the evidence for the measures but we can’t turn public health measures into some kind of ideological divide.

"Over 50,000 people have died from this virus and with vaccines in sight we have to keep doing the responsible thing to try to control it."

Ian Brookfield, the Labour leader of Wolverhampton Council: "With respect to our MPs what we need as a city is someone from Government to actually speak to us about the present and the future.

"Unfortunately since this pandemic has started noone has contacted me to ask how the residents of the city are doing and what do they and local businesses need to get through this mess.

"We have got some of the best public health people working in our city, dedicated to ensuring we all get through this as unscathed as possible.

"They are the ones the country should be concentrating on and thanking and let’s have less of what the politicians want."

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News