Monday, February 26

Evidence needed for tiers, PM told



Conservative rebels have warned Boris Johnson he must provide good evidence for his controversial new Covid-19 tiers or face a backbench revolt this week, despite an eleventh hour climb-down.

In a dramatic about turn, Mr Johnson told MPs the new system could last just nine weeks and offered them another vote on the restrictions at the start of February. But Tory MPs warned the shift has yet to quell the rebellion.

Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid-Derbyshire, said she might support the government in this week’s vote on the tiered measures if more evidence was laid out. She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: I think it will depend very much on what Boris does between now and Tuesday.

If he produces that evidence and he can prove to us that he’s got good evidence to go on then I think he won’t have a rebellion. She said people were not happy and that MPs were reflecting what their constituents are saying to them.

Earlier Foreign secretary Dominic Raab raised the spectre of a return to national lockdown as he defended the new tiers. The rules were necessary to bear down on the pandemic, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme. He said the government was trying to come out of a national lockdown and stay out and warned of the risk of a third wave of Covid-19 if ministers did not get the virus under control.

Later when asked on Times Radio if the government intended to stick to the county by county system of Covid tiers, he said That’s the approach we’re taking. Yes.

Tory MP and former children’s minister Tim Loughton said that unless MPs received the cost-benefit analysis they have asked for between now and Tuesday the prime minister’s letter offering a new sunset clause does not change anything, I’m afraid. Mark Harper, the chair of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, said: We need hard evidence not hyperbole.

Show us that the measures that are being proposed are going to be effective and show us the cost of those measures.

Last week 70 members of the group wrote to the prime minister asking him to set out the cost-benefit analysis of the tiers. Downing Street has said the information will be made available before Tuesday’s vote.