“But the document made clear that it is not possible to say exactly how the tiers will hit local areas – something that has been a key demand of Tory MPs. It also insisted there was no way of quantifying the consequences of not imposing any curbs.”
[Document was expected at mid day but has only emerged just before 1700. Another example of over-promising then failing to deliver.Bit of a damp squib. – Owl]
By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline www.dailymail.co.uk
Boris Johnson today insisted he ‘understands’ the scale of anger over the new coronavirus tiers as he finally published an impact assessment of the measures – but the document claimed it is impossible to gauge the economic hit.
The PM appealed for his mutinous MPs to back the new system in a crunch vote tomorrow, as up to 100 threaten to defy the whip and oppose the plan.
The government released its assessment of the economic and social effects of the pandemic and its
But the document made clear that it is not possible to say exactly how the tiers will hit local areas – something that has been a key demand of Tory MPs. It also insisted there was no way of quantifying the consequences of not imposing any curbs.
The assessment said it was ‘clear that restrictions to contain COVID-19 have had major impacts on the economy and public finances, even if it is not possible to forecast with confidence the precise impact of a specific change to a specific restriction’.
Tory rebel ringleader Mark Harper complained that the information was being released too late, just 24 hours before MPs are due to make their decision. ‘This information is what Ministers should have been insisting on before they made their decisions so it surely could have been made available earlier,’ he said.
Mr Johnson has been scrambling to defuse a massive Tory revolt by offering a series of concessions, including a February renewal date, detailed impact assessments, and more money for pubs and restaurants, and ahead of a crunch Commons vote tomorrow.
Whips are trying to talk round 100 Conservatives on the verge of joining the mutiny, with fury that just 1 per cent of England is being put in the lowest level of restrictions from Wednesday, with many areas in Tier 3 even though they have seen few or no infections.
Calls for a rethink have been reinforced by more evidence that the UK’s outbreak is shrinking fast, with just 12,330 Covid-19 infections recorded in the lowest Monday toll since September,
On a visit to pharmaceutical firm Wockhardt at their facility in North Wales, Mr Johnson said England’s lockdown had got the disease under control with the R number – a measure of how quickly the virus is spreading – below 1.
He said: ‘We can’t afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast, to take our foot off the gas, we can’t afford to let it out of control again.
‘The tiering system is tough, but it’s designed to be tough and to keep it under control.
‘I know that lots of people think that they are in the wrong tier and I understand people’s frustration.
‘I particularly understand the frustration of the hospitality sector that has borne so much and been through so much in the last few months, and we will do everything we can, as we have been doing, to protect and to encourage that sector throughout the weeks and months ahead.’
Labour is set to save Mr Johnson’s bacon by refusing to help kill off the measures, but being forced to rely on Sir Keir Starmer’s support would be devastating for the premier’s authority.
Earlier, Environment Secretary George Eustice raised questions about how long restrictions will be needed for this morning, suggesting that ‘we can see a way out of this during the course of early next summer’ – whereas Mr Johnson has previously voiced hope that the crisis will be largely past by Easter.
And the backlash was further fuelled with Imperial College’s huge monthly React survey finding a dramatic fall off in cases – in line with the daily figures being released by the government.