Senior Tory MP: "I don't believe there is evidential basis for Manchester being in Tier Three"

20 October 2020, 14:58 | Updated: 20 October 2020, 15:00

By Fiona Jones

Senior Tory MP Sir Graham Brady told LBC he does not believe there is evidential basis for Greater Manchester to be put in Tier Three as a stand-off continues to intensify between Westminster and regional leaders.

The midday deadline for a decision on Tier 3 restrictions in Greater Manchester has passed with no agreement between the Government and regional leaders.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has so far resisted calls to introduce Government Covid restrictions, as he has been aiming to secure more help for workers and firms who will be affected by a move to Tier 3.

Senior Tory Sir Graham Brady, 1922 Committee chair and MP for Altrincham and Sale West, told LBC his concern is that "any measures introduced do constrain peoples' fundamental liberties which can prevent some people from going to work to earn a living and put some businesses into forced closure."

He continued: "If any of those measures are taken there should be proportionate and based on evidence...if that happens the Government should make sure people are properly compensated for being put out of business."

"Most important of all is the evidential base for the steps that are being taken. My concern is that there is no evidential base for the steps proposed for Greater Manchester in Tier Three."

Sir Graham said that the venues that are being closed - pubs that don't serve food, bingo halls, betting shops - went to "enormous lengths and enormous expense" to ensure they were as safe as they could possibly be "and they have been operating safely."

He said, "I don't believe there is any evidence that by closing those venues you're going to have any significant impact on the transmission of the virus."

The Prime Minister has threatened to impose Tier Three lockdown on Greater Manchester if no agreement is reached and the MP said to LBC that "measures of this sort ought to be brought before Parliament for approval, certainly if there were to be an imposition."

Sir Graham continued that while some MPs might be in the fortunate position of being in Tier One currently, they may find themselves in a similar position at another point and may crave a Parliamentary vote.

"I certainly would not support taking away jobs from my constituents or closing businesses or limiting peoples' freedom to see friends or family even outside...I certainly wouldn't support any of those measures without a proper base in evidence," he said.

He predicted that an agreement would be finalised this afternoon between Westminster and Greater Manchester ahead of the Prime Minister's Covid briefing at 5pm.

However he reiterated that he is more concerned that there is any real evidence the measures will have an impact.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has since Tweeted: "I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.

"I have therefore advised the Prime Minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement."