Boris Johnson has announced £1,000 for each pub forced to remain closed under the tiers system as he looks to ward off a Conservative rebellion over his post-lockdown plan.
Opening the debate on the tiers system in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said all “wet pubs” – establishments that do not serve food – will receive £1,000 to “recognise how hard they have been hit” by Covid controls during what would typically be their busiest time of year.
MPs are due to vote today (December 1) on measures that would put 99 per cent of England’s population into the tough measures of Tier 2 and Tier 3 when the second national lockdown ends on Wednesday.
Pubs will only be allowed to open in Tier 2 if they can act as a restaurant, while those in Tier 3 will only be permitted to serve takeaway.
Pubs forced to remain shut as a result of tiered controls will receive extra cash, Boris Johnson said. Credit: Dominic Lipinski /PA
Mr Johnson reeled off a list of support already announced for the hospitality sector, before telling MPs: “Today we’re going further, with a one-off payment of £1,000 in December to wet pubs – that’s pubs that do not serve food. Recognising how hard they’ve been hit by this virus in what is typically their busiest month.”
The Prime Minister, who faced barbed questions from disgruntled Tories during his hospitality announcement, is looking to face down a rebellion over his tiers proposal, with many furious that their constituencies face stricter controls than before the latest lockdown.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson acknowledged !people’s feelings of injustice” about the tiers they had been placed in.
He said: “There’s no question people feel that they have been unfairly attracted, by proximity, into a higher tier than they deserve. People also feel that the tiering is not working for them.”
The Conservative Party leader indicated that the Government would look at smaller areas when deciding tiering arrangements in future – a key demand of Tories concerned that low infection rates in some areas were not being reflected in the restrictions being imposed.
Boris Johnson in the Commons. Credit: PA
He added: “We will try to be as sensitive as possible to local efforts and to local achievements in bringing that pandemic under control.”
The Government is expected to win the vote on the new rules, which are due to come into effect the following day, after Labour said it would abstain, but a sizeable rebellion on his own benches would be embarrassing for the Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson’s attempts to reassure his party comes after Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, made up of lockdown-sceptic Tories, said the “wheels are coming off the Government’s arguments” for further controls.
MPs were left unhappy that impact assessments of the tiered system, published on Monday ahead of the Commons vote, did not include a detailed breakdown of the effects of the measures on different parts of the economy.
Downing Street defended the decision not to publish the analysis, which it said had been put together by the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Any attempt to estimate the specific economic impacts of precise changes to individual restrictions for a defined period of time will be subject to such wide uncertainty as to not be meaningful for precise policy making.
“The data used on this dashboard is drawn from publicly available sources. Throughout the pandemic you have seen us publish a wide variety of data. That will continue to be the case.”