Michael Gove tells LBC Tier 2 restrictions in London are 'justified'

1 December 2020, 08:34

By Maddie Goodfellow

Michael Gove has told LBC that Tier 2 restrictions in London are "justified", following reports that he pushed for the city to be placed under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions but was overruled by the Prime Minister.

Mr Gove was questioned by Nick Ferrari over the discussions that took place around the new Tier system, with Nick asking: "Is it true that you argued for London to go into Tier 3 and you lost that conversation?"

The Cabinet Minister replied: "I never talk about what goes on in Cabinet discussions but I think the right approach was taken at the end.

"I think the situation in London is somewhere when Tier 2 is justified because we know that the level of infection is falling in the majority of boroughs."

It comes after it was widely reported that Boris Johnson overruled Mr Gove's calls for London to be placed under the harshest Tier 3 restrictions.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained at the time of the Tier announcements that it was a "borderline decision", saying there is "a lot of work to do" for London to stay in the lower bracket.

Boris Johnson overruled Mr Gove following lobbying from Tory MPs and concerns over the flagging hospitality industry in the city, the Telegraph reported.

There had been warnings that placing the capital in Tier 3 would wipe out half the hospitality industry in the city and trigger an "atomic bomb" of job losses after Christmas.

Last week, sources close to Mr Gove refused to comment on discussions at the 'Covid O' Cabinet committee on Wednesday, but did not deny he had suggested London should be in Tier 3.

There have also been claims that the capital was given more lenient treatment than other areas that had similar levels of infection.

However, Downing Street has denied the verdict on London was affected by economic or political concerns. 

Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan also said it was the "right decision" because "Londoners have done exactly what has been asked of them since the start of this pandemic."

However, the decision has caused a lot of anger, with areas such as neighbouring Kent being moved into Tier 3 despite some areas having low infection rates.

Nick questioned Mr Gove on this, asking: "There is a key vote today - why should people vote for these restrictions when some areas such as Kent and parts of Warwickshire went into lockdown in Tier 1 and have come out in Tier 3.

"These restrictions don't work do they?"

Mr Gove replied: "They do. One of the things about Tier 1 is that we have seen infections rise in Tier 1 areas, but the new Tier 3 is an effective way to bring infection down and unless we bring it down, hospitals could be overwhelmed."

Nick pushed the minister further, saying: "But Kent and Coventry have faired worse - they went in in a better place than they emerged. So how would you explain to those people why they should support the system?"

"Well most places in the country are better off in terms of the national lockdown when it comes to the level of infection," Mr Gove argued.

"When we went into lockdown, infection rate was rising across the country, the R rate was above 1. he R rate has been brought down nationally but a lot of people are still living with the virus.

"We need to be sure that going into January and February, especially with the Christmas relaxation, that we don't let the virus run riot."