A growing number of London’s Conservative MPs are calling for the government to extend more financial support to businesses dealing with Tier 2 restrictions as Boris Johnson faces a growing backbench rebellion.
The capital will be moved into the Tier 2 Covid category on Saturday, meaning social mixing between households will be banned indoors.
The new restrictions are set to bring thousands of bricks and mortar businesses to the brink of going bust, particularly in the hospitality industry.
Businesses that are in Tier 3 areas, such as Liverpool, are being offered the chance to go back on the government’s furlough scheme albeit at a reduced rate.
Tier 2 businesses do not have that option, meaning there is an incentive for people to prefer to enter a near total lockdown than having some freedoms still retained.
Tory Cities of London and Westminter MP Nickie Aiken said chancellor Rishi Sunak desperately needs to review what support is available to London’s businesses under the new Tier 2 restrictions.
“Whilst I appreciate the public health crisis we find ourselves in, I remain deeply concerned about the impact further lockdown will have on the capital’s hospitality, leisure and retail businesses,” she said.
“Many of our businesses are already on their knees, and I urge the government to consider further support before they disappear for good.”
Fellow London Conservative MPs Gareth Bacon and Stephen Hammond also called for support to be extended.
Hammond told City A.M. that today’s announcement would “have a major impact on the local economy” in his constituency of Wimbledon.
“I think by saying to people you can’t meet people from different households, then pubs and restaurants will miss a very large bulk of their business,” he said.
“The government, I think, will have to help business by extending support to Tier 2 as well considering the economic damage this will cause.”
A Number 10 spokesman said today that all the government’s Covid support packages remained under review.
Bacon and Hammond, along with a number of other London Tory MPs, said the capital should have borough-by-borough restrictions instead of moving as a whole city.
In Bacon’s Orpington constituency, the borough of Bromley has a Covid rate that is far below the level of the London-wide rate.
“I am disappointed that Bromley has been moved up to Tier 2 as our rate of infection is lower than the rest of Greater London,” he said.
“I have been strongly making a case for borough variations to stop measures being unfairly imposed.”
Tory Harrow East MP Bob Blackman told the Telegraph: “I’ve been saying it’s ridiculous that we would treat London as a whole. This broad brush approach when the infection rates are very different between boroughs is just rubbish.”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Chingford and Woodford Green MP, told The Telegraph that the decision to place London in Tier 2 was to placate people in the North who have tougher Covid restrictions.
“The figures I’ve seen for London do not necessitate this,” he said. “This is a staging post, they are getting London ready for Tier 3. It will be a disaster.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said today that the restrictions would remain as city-wide to make instructions easier for people.
“We want to tackle this virus at a local level and reduce transmission and the number of hospitaliaation,” he said.
“In London you have various different boroughs, but given the need to reduce the infection rate we need approach that is as easy as possible.”