Boris Johnson urged to SCRAP coronavirus tier system as Tory MPs consider Starmer’s plan

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Sir Bernard Jenkin, a senior Tory MP and chairman of the Liaison Committee, said he supported the circuit-breaker concept proposed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and SAGE advisers, but not on a national level. Sir Keir called on Tuesday for a two to three week “circuit breaker” coronavirus lockdown to save lives. Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether he supported a short lockdown, he said: “Yes, in the areas where you have sharply rising cases.

“In the areas where there are very sharply rising cases there is a strong case for going straight to Tier 3 measures, but these should be selective, they should not be national.

“Whereas Essex has got an 82 percent increase over the last seven days, Cornwall has only got 16.2 percent, Somerset has only got 39 percent.”

He added: “Most Conservative MPs are happy to accept a lockdown in their own area where there are sharping cases provided there is sufficient Government support.

“The problem with the Tier-2 proposals is they seem to fall between stools, they’re a compromise.

“They may not be effective, the evidence is out on that. And yet it will hammer the hospitality industry.”

Sir Bernard said he had called on ministers to set-up a “high-level strategy group” to look at how it handles the coronavirus pandemic in the longer term.

He said it should “think about how we are going to live with the virus in the weeks and months ahead, because it is unlikely a vaccine is going to provide a single knockout blow to the whole thing”.

Starmer said Johnson’s attempt to tackle the virus wasn’t working.

But Work and Pensions Minister Thérèse Coffey said on Wednesday Boris Johnson is not yet heading towards a full national lockdown in England despite calls from the opposition leader.

“I do not believe that the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown, but as ever he is advised by scientists – he takes that decision,” Coffey told Sky.

Asked if England was heading for a national lockdown in the next two weeks, Coffey said: “I don’t believe that is the case but as I say this will continue to be a decision that the prime minister will lead on.”

Coffey said the three-tier system of lockdowns announced on Monday should be given a chance to work.

But government scientific advisers said in a paper due to be published on Wednesday that a two-week full lockdown from October 24 could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100, The Times reported.

The paper by Graham Medley, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, says that “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break.”

If daily deaths reach more than 200, a circuit breaker could reduce the toll for the rest of the year from 80,000 to less than 40,000, The Times said.

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Labour MP Rachel Reeves, addressing the criticism levelled at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer by a Government source on Tuesday, that he was “playing games” with his support for a circuit-breaker, said: “Keir Starmer is showing real leadership and following the science.

“It is a shame the Government is not doing that.

“It is not too late for them to change course, it is not too late for them to do that.

“We urge them, plead with them, to do that because we need to get control of the virus, protect the NHS and get a grip of our failed Test and Trace system.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that financial support should be “put in place so businesses will not be ruined” during any circuit-break lockdown, which the shadow cabinet member argued could help get the R rate back below one.

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