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Boris Johnson faces major Tory backlash after placing 99% of nation under toughest lockdown restrictions

Prime minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson faces a large-scale backlash from Conservative backbenchers after placing 99% of England into tier two or three lockdown measures.

Tory MP Steve Baker described the measures as “authoritarian”, while others demanded the publication of a cost-benefit analysis of the restrictions.

The government placed more than 23 million people into tier three restrictions on Thursday, with more than 32 million in tier two, which has been made more stringent during the current lockdown.

Only three areas were placed in tier one restrictions.

West Midlands’ Tory metro mayor Andy Street called for “clear epidemiological evidence” as to why hospitality should close in tier three.

He said the decision to impose tier three restrictions in his area was “very disappointing” due to the “personal sacrifices people have already made and the economic impact it will have on our towns and cities”.

Street also described the £3,000 monthly grant scheme as “insufficient” for businesses forced to close.

Conservative MP Damian Green questioned whether the current lockdown was working, saying: “I’m hugely disappointed that the whole of Kent has been put into Tier 3. Before lockdown we were in Tier 1 so what has lockdown achieved? We need the full analysis made public.”

Former Tory chief whip Mark Harper, who chairs the 70-strong lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group of backbench Tories, said the government needed to publish a cost-benefit analysis of restrictions “in full and in time” ahead of a vote on the measures on Tuesday.

Senior MPs William Wragg, Tobias Ellwood and Sir Robert Syms have also signalled they would vote against the measures.

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, who has previously been vocal about a lack of financial support for areas in tier three measures said it was “completely wrong” for the government to provide no additional business support, where hospitality must close.

In response to calls for extra support, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The chancellor set out the financial support that is available to businesses and I would point to the fact that we have extended this to April next year, including furlough which will benefit people up and down the country.”

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