George Eustice says now isn't the time for party politics as MPs prepare to vote on Covid tiers

30 November 2020, 14:58 | Updated: 30 November 2020, 15:03

Environment secretary told LBC that MPs should "set aside" party politics for coronavirus tiers vote
Environment secretary told LBC that MPs should "set aside" party politics for coronavirus tiers vote. Picture: LBC/PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

MPs should "set aside the politics" and vote for post-lockdown coronavirus tiers, environment secretary George Eustice has told LBC.

George Eustice said that England was facing a "national emergency" and that traditional party politics need to be suspended to introduce tough new measures.

"It will be for the Labour Party to judge how they approach this, " he said, "but an Opposition in circumstances like this should act responsibly and not simply play politics."

The comments come as Boris Johnson tries to face down dozens of rebel MPs in his own party over the new restrictions, which place 99% of England into Tiers 2 and 3.

Read more: Boris Johnson tells MPs to back Tier system or face third lockdown

Read more: Covid infections 'fell by 30 per cent during England's second national lockdown'

Several senior Conservative MPs have already signalled their intention to vote against or abstain in next week's vote on the measures, which would hugely impact small businesses in their areas.

Former minister Tobias Ellwood said he would "probably abstain", while former business secretary Greg Clark called on the Government to review its decisions and make more data available before he could vote for them.

Asked whether the Government would have to end up relying on Labour votes to get the measures through, he said: "We'll have to wait and see."

"I know that the chief whip and the Prime Minister and others will be working very hard to reassure some of those on our own benches who are concerned and anxious about what is taking place and the impacts.

Read more: Environment secretary tells LBC Scotch eggs are a substantial meal

Read more: Covid-19 crisis in numbers: LBC brings you the stats you need to know

"But, look, in situations like this - this is a national emergency, we're having to take emergency measures."

It is unclear whether Labour MPs will be whipped to support the Government on its latest Covid-19 legislation, which has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic.

Senior party figures told reporters on Sunday that it had not yet been decided, but that MPs would need reassurances over support for businesses.