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Tory MPs demand ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ as Nottingham enters Tier 3
26 October 2020, 22:14 | Updated: 27 October 2020, 10:03
A group of Tory MPs have banded together to demand a "clear road-map" out of lockdown, as eight million people face living under the highest coronavirus restrictions by the end of the week.
The group of northern Conservative backbenchers, led by former northern powerhouse minister Jake Berry, have written to the Prime Minister asking him to develop an economic recovery plan for the North.
They are also urging the Government to prioritise key infrastructure projects and to accelerate job creation in the region.
Some 40 Conservative MPs have publicly signed the letter, while a further 14 have had their names redacted.
A North-South divide has emerged with the Government's coronavirus tier system, as all areas under the strictest restrictions are in the North and Midlands.
Mr Berry, who represents Rossendale and Darwen, said: "Our party's return to Government in December was won on the back of hard-working people in constituencies like ours who backed the Conservatives for the first time in a generation, and who did so on the promise that they would not be forgotten.
"We cannot forget that we must deliver on our commitments made during that election, to level-up northern communities and create opportunity across our region."
He said the North has seen "a level of disruption unparalleled with other parts of the country" because of the pandemic.
Mr Berry added: "The virus has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities and it threatens to continue to increase the disparity between the North and South still further.
"Our constituents have been some of the hardest hit by this virus with many losing jobs, businesses, and livelihoods.
"Never has there been a more pertinent and urgent political and economic case to support people living in the North.
"However, instead of moving forwards on our shared ambitions, the cost of Covid and the virus itself threatens to send the North into reverse."
It was announced on Monday that Warrington, Nottingham City, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe - bringing the total number of people in the country living under Tier 3 to eight million.
The other areas are; Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire.
In those areas, households will be banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens, while betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres will also close.
Boris Johnson won a majority of 80 seats at last year's general election, turning many traditional Labour constituencies - which formed the so-called Red Wall - blue.
Some MPs have expressed concern that these newly-won seats could be returned to Labour at the next election if the Government fails to deliver on its promise to "level up" the country.
Shadow Treasury minister Bridget Phillipson commented: "Even Boris Johnson's own MPs know that he cannot be trusted to deliver on his promises.
"The Government has been treating local communities with contempt.
"The decision not to extend free school meals is the clearest sign yet that the Conservatives have the wrong priorities and are not on the side of British families."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier 4 impositions following reports another level is being considered to tackle England's rise in infections.