Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Boris Johnson urged to publish ‘public-friendly’ data on route out of lockdown | UK news”
The former minister behind a group of more than 50 Conservative MPs in northern England who have warned Boris Johnson their constituencies risk being left behind amid the pandemic has urged Downing Street to provide people with clear data showing a route out of restrictions.
Jake Berry called for information to be published in an “easily digestible, consumer-facing, public-friendly way” akin to how church halls use large mock thermometers to display progress in fundraising efforts.
It follows a letter from the Northern Research Group, led by Berry, a former northern powerhouse minister, in which 55 MPs expressed fears that the government’s “levelling up” agenda was being abandoned. The letter will set alarm bells ringing in No 10 as many of the MPs represent former Labour constituencies in the north of England which helped Johnson win a majority at last year’s election.
With restrictions continuing to be extended, 8.2 million people in England will be living under tier 3 lockdown this week – forcing the closure of pubs, bars and other parts of the hospitality sector – including vast swathes of the north. The letter to the prime minister on Monday called for a roadmap out of the tiered lockdown system, warning that restrictions are disproportionately affecting people in the north.
Fleshing out his position, Berry told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme on Tuesday: “I think we need consistent and clear data to be published that shows not just council leaders, but also the public and businesses alike, how they are doing in tackling this pandemic.
“If you visit any church hall or scout hut around the country you’ll see the sort of thermometer on the wall telling them how they’re getting towards their new roof and incentivising people, providing them data, bringing them with you, letting them understand that they are part of this great battle we’re fighting against Covid. [It] will, I think, increase compliance and also a route out of these restrictions is obviously part of a route to recovery, which is what we have written to the prime minister seeking as a group of northern MPs.”
Asked what more he was asking of the government when the health secretary has said the rate of infection needs to be falling and hospitals need to not be overfull, Berry added: “What I would like to see on a personal basis is that information provided in an easily digestible, consumer-facing, public-friendly way that can show people a route out of these restrictions.”
In the letter, MPs expressed concerns “that the cost of Covid could be paid for by the downgrading of the levelling-up agenda, and northern constituencies like ours will be left behind”. The group asked the prime minister to create “a pathway down the tiering system” and to accelerate key road, rail and social infrastructure projects, and job creation. He should also develop “a tailored economic recovery plan” for the north, they said.
But the business minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the government’s support for the north and Midlands, highlighting that 45 places due to benefit from its £3.5bn towns fund are in the north and 30 are in the Midlands.
Pressed on why northern Tory MPs were expressing their concern, Zahawi said they were “champions for their area”, telling Sky News: “They want to make sure that their northern powerhouse strategy that Jake Berry and others have worked so hard on – with myself, I’m the local growth minister as well as being the business and industry minister – is delivered.
“And that is absolutely our focus, and you will see that coming through in our refresh of the industrial strategy.”
Meanwhile, the Liverpool mayor, Joe Anderson, has backed the idea of a possible fourth tier of Covid restrictions if the third category that his city is in does not go far enough to halt the spread of the virus. Anderson told BBC Breakfast he was not opposed to the introduction of “tougher measures if necessary”, saying he would review the results of tier 3 restrictions in 14 to 16 days’ time.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Boris Johnson urged to publish ‘public-friendly’ data on route out of lockdown | UK news