Labour politicians angry about leaked plans to shut northern pubs

Labour politicians in the North of England have criticised the Government over leaked plans to close pubs and restaurants next week to tackle rising coronavirus cases.

The proposals, which have not been confirmed, appeared on the front pages of The Times, Telegraph and Sun newspapers, provoking an angry response from opposition MPs and Labour elected mayors.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham tweeted: "No discussion. No consultation. Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government."

Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region mayor and Barnsley Central MP, wrote on Twitter: "Recklessly irresponsible to brief the papers but not leaders in the North who'll somehow have to make this work. Get a grip".

Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram said: "It is deeply disappointing to wake up this morning to reports that new Covid-19 restrictions affecting millions of people in our city region, and across the North, could be in place within days, rather than hearing it during a genuine dialogue between ministers and local leaders.

"At the moment we have a patchwork of local measures across the country and too much confusion for the public as a result."

Mr Rotheram said extra funding for affected areas would be needed, adding: "When the country locked down in March, the Chancellor's actions showed that such significant measures required financial support on a similar scale.

"If it was right then, it certainly is now – so we need to be seeing local furlough schemes, business grants and financial support for the self-employed and those who cannot work from home."

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell, Manchester Central MP, tweeted: "Let's remember infections still largely occurring: inside households, then in education (mainly university) settings then health/care settings, then workplaces. In that order. Only then (and further down) do you get to hospitality and other settings..."

Referring to the prospect of pubs in northern England being shut down, she added: "It's really upsetting and a lot of anxiety for all those working in and running restaurants, pubs, bars in "the North" (that place up there where 15m of us live)."

Labour MPs in the North East of England were also angry.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne shared The Times' front page, tweeting: "If this is true, the Government is showing contempt for all by this being announced in the paper today.

"There needs to be a package of support for all and we need a strategy, a plan to get us out of these local restrictions. There needs to be hope for us all."

And Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields, said: "My contempt for this Government grows stronger every day.

"If this is true it will destroy our local economy in Shields and since testing remains a shambles it won't even reduce our infection rates."