Could a ‘circuit breaker’ STILL happen at half-term? Claims Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove back a broad crackdown in badly-affected ‘urban areas’ over school half-term
- Gove and Cummings said to be pushing for two-week closure from October 26
- Would affect only parts of England with the worst coronavirus levels
- But faces opposition from Chancellor Rishi Sunak who branded idea damaging
Boris Johnson is looking at placing millions of people in urban areas into a total ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown at half term.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and the PM’s assistant Dominic Cummings are said to be pushing for a two-week closure from October 26 – but limit it to the worst-affected parts of England.
This would allow him to appear to be taking decisive action in the face of wide-support for the measure but avoid handing a political victory to Labour leader Keir Starmer, who demanded a nationwide lockdown this week.
It would cover all areas in the top Tier 3 Very High category but could also include some areas currently at Tier 2 High.
It came as it was announced London will go into Tier 2 lockdown from midnight on Friday night, with ministers expected to announce Greater Manchester would be put into the highest Tier 3 later today.
Mr Johnson has not ruled out a circuit-breaker, but in a combative performance at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, he said it would mean misery for millions.
He rounded on Sir Keir Starmer over his call for the UK to be plunged back into a national lockdown for a temporary period.
The PM is also likely to have stiff opposition from the Chancellor. Responding to Keir Starmer’s call for a full circuit breaker, Rishi Sunak last night said Britain was already facing an ‘economic emergency’ – and said Labour ‘do not seem to care about the long-term stability of the public finances’.
Mr Johnson has not ruled out a circuit-breaker, but in a combative performance at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, he said it would mean misery for millions
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove (left) and the PM’s assistant Dominic Cummings (right, today) are said to be pushing for a two-week closure from October 26 – but limit it to the worst-affected parts of England
‘We cannot allow the virus to take hold,’ he said. ‘We must prevent the strain on our NHS from becoming unbearable, but we must also acknowledge the stark reality of the economic and social impacts of another national lockdown.
‘The costs of doing that are not abstract – they are real: they can be counted in jobs lost, businesses closed and children’s educations harmed; they can be measured in the permanent damage done to our economy, which will undermine our long-term ability to fund our NHS and our valued public services; and they can be measured in the increase in long-term health conditions that unemployment causes.’
But Cabinet dove Matt Hancock is also calling for the lockdown, according to the Times.
It reported they have urged Mr Johnson to make a decision within the next week on whether to persevere with his three-tier system that only came into effect this week, or immediately take more drastic measures.
Millions of Londoners face tougher lockdown from tomorrow night as Boris Johnson ramps up efforts to tackle the coronavirus surge.
The capital will face tighter Tier Two controls from midnight tomorrow after a deal was done with mayor Sadiq Khan.
It means as of Saturday nine million people will be banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and other venues.
Mr Khan has been demanding more support for hospitality businesses that could be crippled by the shift. He warned this morning that Londoners face a ‘difficult winter’, and also repeated his call for new national ‘circuit breaker’ measures alongside the curbs.
The PM is also preparing to put Greater Manchester and Lancashire into Tier Three restrictions – meaning a total shutdown of bars and even harsher restrictions on socialising.
Ministers have signalled they are pressing ahead with the drastic steps despite Manchester mayor Andy Burnham pushing for a bigger bailout and vowing to sue.
Mr Johnson reviewed the proposals this morning after they were signed off by the ‘gold command’ group including chief medical officer Chris Whitty.
But the news leaked after briefings with MPs from the affected areas, with confirmation due in a Commons statement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at 11.30am.
Mr Burnham and the region’s local council leaders threatened legal action if they are put into the ‘fundamentally flawed’ highest level of local restrictions without more financial help.