Areas in COVID hotspots may be removed from toughest tiers to soften Tory rebellion

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
Pedestrians, one wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walks past shops along The Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent, south east England on November 27, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England will end on December 2, with the lockdown followed by a return to a three-tiered set of regional restrictions as part of the government's "COVID Winter Plan". Tunbridge Wells has been placed in Tier 3, the highest, or most strict, of the restrictions. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Kent will be put in Tier 3 when the national lockdown is lifted (Getty)

Villages and towns in COVID hotspots may be transferred to a less restrictive tier to soften a Tory rebellion, according to a new report.

Those areas with low infection rates which have been placed in Tier 2 and 3 when lockdown lifts on Wednesday due to their regions having worst numbers may get a reprieve, The Telegraph reports.

MPs have reportedly been told these locations could be "decoupled" from their region.

The newspaper said government officials, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, were trying to win over up to 70 Tory MPs who are threatening to vote against the proposals in the Commons next week.

The changes would apparently take place in mid-December following a planned review.

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work

After the new tier restrictions were announced on Thursday, many doubtful Tories called on the government to publish the evidence behind their decisions.

Leading Tory MP Sir Graham Brady said he would vote against the proposals in the Commons next week.

The chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs told BBC Radio 4’s the World at One: “I have severe reservations on so many different levels.

“I do think that the policies have been far too authoritarian.”

Other rebels included former minister Tobias Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, who tweeted: “With only 160 cases per 100k I’m puzzled to see us placed in this tier which will cause further hardship for our hospitality industry.

“I will NOT be supporting the Gov’s motion to introduce this next week.”

A sign displaying advice on social distancing is displayed at the beach in Weston-super-Mare, south west England on May 27, 2020, as lockdown measures are eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Weston-super-Mare, south-west England, is also in Tier 3 (Getty)

MPs for North Somerset and Weston-super-Mare said the decision to place the area in Tier 3 “isn’t right nor fair”.

In a joint statement, Dr Liam Fox and John Penrose said: “On our own, North Somerset might well qualify to be in Tier 2, but we have been placed in Tier 3 because we are regarded as ‘a natural travel to work area’ along with Bristol and Gloucestershire.”

They said the decision was “illogical” given that people have been asked to work from home and said the region was being punished for higher infection rates in Bristol.

Areas in Kent could also be downgraded from Tier 3 following complaints from local MPs, according to the report.

Any Tory rebellion is likely to fail though as Labour MPs are expected to back the new tier system which will give Boris Johnson the numbers he needs to pass it.

Watch: What is long COVID?

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter