Exeter MP furious with Christmas changes

Devon MPs have reacted with anger to the ‘inevitable curtailing of Christmas’, with Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw saying it is the angriest he has ever been with the prime minister. Newton Abbot MP Anne Marie Morris fears her constituency will be caught up in a lockdown that isn’t merited in the new year. She wants MPs recalled to parliament.

Looks like Simon Jupp and Neil Parish are hunkered down somewhere, on “radio silence”. – Owl

Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

Boris Johnson cancelled Christmas festivities by plunging millions of people in the south east into a new ‘Tier 4’, and for everyone else only relaxing the indoor household mixing ban for Christmas Day.

Devon MPs said that they had feared this was inevitable from much earlier. Ben Bradshaw (Labour) said: “I don’t think I have ever felt so angry with this prime minister. He never learns. Always over promising and under delivering. Millions of people were encouraged by him to make plans to see family and friends for Christmas, even though he knew cases were soaring and he’s known about this new strain since September and now all these people’s plans have had to be scrapped.”

Anne Marie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbot, said: “I am deeply frustrated by the last-minute changes to the Christmas rules, meaning that three households can only meet on Christmas Day, here in Tier 2. This is especially disappointing for those who have relatives living in Tier 4 areas.

“Most people support the need to suppress the virus and measures to manage this, but they don’t support the last-minute change of direction when significant planning had already taken place. This is the latest in a list of avoidable communication failures.”

And on Tier 4, Ms. Morris, who voted against the second lockdown, said: “Let’s be clear, Tier 4 is lockdown with a different name. The reality is that if the data supports it, then more of the country is going to head towards Tier 4 across January and probably February. The data shows Teignbridge and Devon being a long way from this, but I fear we will be caught up in a full national lockdown as the number of Tier 4 areas increases.

“Our response to covid must be rational and balanced, not driven by panic, and should take full account of all the health and economic consequences of lockdowns and restrictions. Our response to the virus should be based on informed scientific, economic and health data.

“I firmly believe that parliament should be allowed to resume as the virtual-hybrid parliament we previously had, in which we can vote ourselves and speak in all debates. We can’t continue to live with the dinosaurs.

“Only then can we really hold government to account. Were that in place, a recall would be both possible and right. I absolutely want to be able to support the government in the measures they are taking but they need to provide the cost-benefit analysis of the measures they have put in place.”

Kevin Foster, Conservative MP for Torbay, said: “The news will be disappointing and it is not where anyone wanted to be, not least after the difficult year we have had, but the emerging situation in London and the South East cannot be ignored and the move to restrict non-essential travel out of the Tier 4 areas, including to our Bay, is a sensible precaution.”

But he added: “It would be easy to look at today’s news and feel like the situation is depressing and there is nothing you can do, yet like in the past when a deadly threat is facing our Bay we can all do our bit to help.

“Many are doing this already by working in our public services, supporting our healthcare teams, working in key services, helping neighbours and being part of the voluntary\faith groups doing so much to support the vulnerable. All of those involved have made a massive difference so far and deserve our thanks.”