Black Country MP John Spellar to vote against 'ill thought out' Covid restrictions

Black Country Labour MP John Spellar has revealed he is voting against the Government's new stricter tiers system tonight – saying the measures will destroy the country's hospitality industry.

Warley MP John Spellar says he will vote against the Government's new tiers system
Warley MP John Spellar says he will vote against the Government's new tiers system

The MP for Warley said the measures were "ill thought out" and would lead to thousands of job losses across the region and pubs and restaurants going bust.

MPs are expected to pass proposals for stricter tiers in a Commons vote this evening, meaning the Black Country and Staffordshire will be plunged into Tier 3 restrictions from midnight.

The measures, which are due to be reviewed on December 16, will see the region's pubs and restaurants remain closed and people banned from mixing with anyone outside their household or support bubble indoors, or at most outdoor venues.

Sir Kier Starmer has ordered Labour MPs to abstain on the vote, but Mr Spellar is one of a number of them planning to vote against the measures.

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Explaining his decision, Mr Spellar said the restrictions were "bad for the country, and particularly bad for the Black Country".

"Many businesses that have just about been hanging on are now getting very close to not being able to keep going," he said.

"Pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues... they are losing hope, because they are being hit time after time without any evidence that they are a source of infection.

"In three months the workforce has dropped by 750,000 and that is only going to accelerate. This is a huge number of jobs we are talking about.

Careful

"We are crashing a very significant industry, which is a big part of our way of life with minimal impact on the coronavirus, but with a huge impact on the economy and on society.

It is not justifiable or necessary and simply shows that Matt Hancock and Michael Gove haven't got a clue."

He added: "We have got to be careful. This is a significant disease which causes long-term illness for some people and also death.

"We have got to work out how we can best protect people while life and the economy continue. I don't think the Government has shown any competence of getting a grip on that."

A number of Tory MPs are expected to oppose the measures, with some saying an impact assessment used to justify the new system failed to feature any new detail.

Ministers insist the tiers system is necessary in order to avoid a third national lockdown.

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, said he would be backing the measures, saying infection rates across Staffordshire were still "too high".

He said: "Because hospitals in the area are nearing capacity on Covid wards and we are surrounded by areas with very high infection rates, it would be highly irresponsible of me not to support these regulations today.

"The situation may have changed by the time the Government reviews the tier levels in two weeks’ time.

"In voting today, I will be considering not only the livelihoods of my constituents, but their lives too."

Ahead of the vote the Government announced it would provide around £40 million for pubs in the top two tiers in England.

The cash will be distributed via councils to pubs that do not serve food, meaning they are the worst affected by the highest levels of restrictions.

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