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Michael Gove says London shouldn’t be in Tier 3: I think the right decision was taken

Nicholas Cecil
·2 min read
 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

Cabinet minister Michael Gove today backed London being put in Tier 2 despite reportedly advocating more draconian restrictions.

He described the decision to allocate the middle tier to the capital as the “proportionate approach”.

Mr Gove, though, is said to have argued at a crunch meeting of senior ministers last Wednesday that London should go into Tier 3 when lockdown ends tomorrow.

Boris Johnson is reported to have intervened to come down in favour of Tier 2 after the Treasury warned that Tier 3 could put 550,000 jobs at risk, rather than 50,000 in the tier below.

Other Cabinet ministers also backed Tier 2.

Asked about the high-level discussions on Sky News, Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove appeared initially to seek to justify pushing for Tier 3 for London.

“We never discuss what happens in Cabinet committees,” he said.

“But the one thing I will say is it’s always easier to move an area from a tougher tier to a lower tier once we are confident that the infection is under control rather than relaxing things and then having to put the brakes on again as we have seen in Wales.”

But pressed on whether he thought the city should have gone into Tier 3, he added: “No, I think the right decision was taken.

“I think that the proportionate approach is to make sure that we have Tier 2 which is effective at stabilising and in some cases reducing the infection rate, is right for London.

“But we need to keep all of these things under review.”

Since the Cabinet committee meeting, Covid-19 cases have continued to fall sharply in London.

The infection rate has now dropped from what appears to have been a second wave peak of 199.3 cases a week per 100,000 population in mid-November to 155.1 on November 25.

Confirmed cases are down in nearly every borough, and are below 100 cases a week per 100,000 in Westminster, Camden, Wandsworth, Lewisham and Richmond.

Cases are down by around a third across the country, according to one study, but they are expected to rise when restrictions are relaxed during the festive season and Mr Gove stopped short of completely ruling out a third national lockdown.

However, he said: “I’m as confident as confident can be that we won’t need one because the tiers that we have now are pretty robust.”

Dozens of Tory MPs are set to rebel today and vote against the new tiering system after the Government failed to provide a detailed economic impact analysis of the new restrictions to satisfy them that it is needed.

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