Northern Tories are calling for a specific post-pandemic recovery plan for the region as they warned Boris Johnson that the current lockdown “must be the last”.
The Northern Research Group (NRG) of MPs welcomed the Prime Minister’s road map out of coronavirus restrictions but said that a fourth national lockdown would be “disastrous” for the North.
The group includes many of the so-called “red wall” Tories who took traditional Labour strongholds in the party’s 2019 general election victory.
NRG chairman Jake Berry said that the North had been hit harder than the rest of England during the pandemic, leaving many residents and businesses “on a cliff edge”.
He said: “The economic impact on families and on businesses across our region is significant.
“It has exacerbated regional inequalities and has left many families and businesses on a cliff edge as they struggle to stay afloat and make payments.
“The Prime Minister is right to take a cautious approach – a fourth lockdown would be disastrous for our region. But this must be the last time.
“With each passing day our recovery will take longer, and people simply can’t afford another lockdown.
Mr Berry, a former Northern Powerhouse minister, called on the Prime Minister to bring forward a tailored recovery plan for the North, to help the region “build back better from this pandemic”.
He also urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend existing support programmes for hard-pressed businesses and families in next Wednesday’s Budget.
“We cannot keep both businesses closed and deny people the opportunity of earning a living,” he said.
“We have to provide support to people as this lockdown continues.”