All but one of our local MPs voted in favour of the post-lockdown coronavirus restrictions which have come into force today.
The new tiering system – which has seen the toughest rules placed on Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire – was backed 291 to 78 by MPs following a House of Commons debate yesterday.
A total of 55 Conservative MPs voted against the measures – the biggest Commons rebellion against Boris Johnson’s government since the election.
Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, a former cabinet minister, was the only local MP not to vote in favour. She was one of 16 Tories who did not vote at all. She had previously spoken of having ‘great reservations’ about some of the measures.
The Staffordshire Moorlands currently has the second lowest Covid-19 infection rate in the county (206.2 cases per 100,000 population), but it is still subject to the same rules as Stoke-on-Trent, which has the seventh highest rate in England.
Under tier three, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are only allowed to operate on a takeaway or delivery basis, while entertainment venues must stay closed. Less restrictive rules apply in tier two.
While she did not take part in the Commons debate, Ms Bradley spoke about her concerns during a discussion on levelling up North Staffordshire towns at Westminster Hall. But she did accept that the area should be in tier three.
Ms Bradley said: “I have great fears about the economy that will be left for us to recover post-covid. I received more messages last weekend from businesses in my constituency that are concerned about the impact of the measures that are currently being debated in the main Chamber. I have incredible sympathy for those businesses, with what they are going through.
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“It is a shame that we, as Members of Parliament, are presented with the Hobson’s choice of voting for restrictions. In many cases, they are necessary to save lives — to be clear, North Staffordshire does need to be in tier 3 at the moment, as our hospital desperately needs to get on a sustainable footing before we can move out of those restrictions — but it is a shame that the only option presented to us by the Government is to vote for the measures, on which we will not get another say for a couple of months. I have great reservations about some of the things included in those measures.”
Ms Bradley said pubs in her constituency wanted to ‘trade, serve their customers and make money’ rather than more government handouts.
She also raised the plight of Heaton House Farm, which, as a dedicated wedding venue, had been ‘suffering incredibly’ during the pandemic due to being unable to access various government support schemes.
Most Labour MPs abstained on the vote, meaning the measures were passed comfortably despite the Tory rebellion.
Here is how our local MPs voted:
Aaron Bell, Newcastle, Conservative – FOR
Karen Bradley, Staffordshire Moorlands, Conservative – DID NOT VOTE
Jack Brereton, Stoke-on-Trent South, Conservative – FOR
Fiona Bruce, Congleton, Conservative – FOR
Bill Cash, Stone, Conservative – FOR
Theo Clarke, Stafford, Conservative – FOR
Jo Gideon, Stoke-on-Trent Central, Conservative – FOR
Jonathan Gullis, Stoke-on-Trent North, Conservative – FOR
Kieran Mullan, Crewe & Nantwich, Conservative – FOR