Politics latest news: Matt Hancock denies Northern lockdown aimed at Eid

Matt Hancock has denied that Government has imposed a new lockdown on much of the North of England in a bid to curtail Eid celebrations.

Baroness Warsi told Good Morning Britain said the handling of the announcement had caused disappointment and confusion for those who were hoping to begin celebrations today. 

She said: “The lack of clarity and the lateness of the message hasn’t encouraged a what effectively I think throughout the pandemic has been a community wide response.”

GMB host Adil Ray said: “It is like waking up on Christmas Day and realising that you cannot go to your family’s house and have Christmas dinner, or they cannot come and visit you.”

Asked on BBC’s Today programme whether the measures were announced late on Thursday night to stop Eid celebrations from taking place, the Health Secretary said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.

“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have Covid-secure celebrations.

“For instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”

Matt Hancock has been forced to defend the late-night announcement of a major new lockdown on vast swathes of the north of England last night, after the Government was attacked by critics, including Tory MPs. 

William Wragg, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee chair, and Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 committee chair, were among several high profile figures to complain about the new restrictions, with the PACAC head saying “to treat all 10 boroughs the same is not the right approach”.

Senior Labour figures, including Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, said while they supported the Government on the principle of a lockdown, Government’s handling of the matter had been poor. Although it was initially announced at 9pm, the details weren’t released until 11.30pm, just 30 minutes before they took effect

“They have a habit of saying something and it’s a few hours before the detail emerges,” Mr Burnham told Sky News: “I understand the need to make announcements and take decisive action but you must make sure you have the detail ready to go exactly the same time.”

The Health Secretary this morning said guidance was “crystal clear”. He added: “We are moving quickly in some circumstances and I think that’s very important and it’s one of the things that when you face a pandemic like this, it is important sometimes to move quickly, if that’s what’s needed…

“I understand that this is not a sort of decision that anybody would want to take, but as we’ve seen before, it is important to move quickly because the virus spreads and you’ve got to make sure you do everything you can do keep ahead of it.”

Rail union officials have urged passengers to avoid crowding onto trains this weekend amid fears that unofficial Pride events and the hot weather may compromise social distancing.

The official Brighton Pride has been cancelled due to the virus pandemic, but the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said a combination of unofficial events and other attractions on a hot weekend have sparked concerns among its members.

However, as my colleague Christopher Hope points out, it’s not just the weekend’s events that are luring people to the beach on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year.

Here’s a queue of around 200 people waiting for the first off-peak train from Blackfriars Station to Brighton this morning. The beach is going to be busy! pic.twitter.com/2xZKWnaztg

Labour is claiming that the Government has 24 hours to prevent making a “historic mistake” by starting to scale back its blanket furlough support. 

From tomorrow, employers will have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions for the hours an employee is on furlough, in the first stage of the scheme being fully wound down by October.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds warned this risks handing redundancy notices to workers across the country as she launched a “jobs, jobs, jobs” campaign.

She said: ““It’s not too late for the Chancellor to see sense, change course and support the businesses and sectors that need it most. But even if he does, there is still much to do. 

“The government should back viable businesses that are still impacted by Coronavirus, support the self-employed and come up with a plan to drive job creation as we emerge from the pandemic. It must ensure our NHS and care services are fully prepared for a second wave – because we won’t recover from this economic crisis until the government gets a grip on the health crisis.”

Pubs and restaurants in Leicester are set to reopen from Monday as a number of lockdown restrictions in the city are lifted.

It follows an announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that lockdown restrictions had been tightened in parts of northern England.

The borough of Oadby and Wigston on the outskirts of the city is moving completely out of local lockdown.

I have double checked with the Department for Health about timings and all restrictions in Oadby and Wigston ended at midnight last night.Obviously cafes etc will need some time to get ready to reopen so please be understanding if not open till next week – but free to open now.

The Government is being attacked on all sides for its handling of the late-night announcement of a lockdown affecting millions of people. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said it is a “new low”, while Greater Manchester Andy Burnham attacked the “habit” of making announcements hours before details are released, arguing this leads to confusion and concern. 

High ranking Tories are also critical, arguing there should not be a blanket approach across all parts of the region. 

Matt Hancock has defended the way it has been handled, saying circumstances demand “rapid” action, and that the measures are more important than the method they are communicated. 

Ruth Davidson is expected to make a return to frontline politics, after the sudden resignation of Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw last night. 

Moray MP Douglas Ross is the frontunner to replace him, but the former leader is expected to “be taking on Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament” until the MP can swap Westminster for Holyrood, according to one Scottish Tory MP. 

John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, told Times Radio he would be campaign manager of Mr Ross’s bid to lead the party.  

“I was (Ruth’s) campaign manager back in 2011 when she was elected Scottish leader and she has grown from strength to strength since since that point and she’s going to be playing a part and Douglas’s team if Douglas is elected,” he added. 

“Ruth will be taking on Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament between the point of Douglas’s election until next year’s election to the Scottish Parliament when we hope that Douglas is going to be returned as an MSP.

Asked on BBC’s Today programme whether the measures were announced late on Thursday night to stop Eid celebrations from taking place, he said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.

“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have Covid-secure celebrations.

“For instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”

Matt Hancock has confirmed there will be a Downing Street press conference today, as the Government seeks to answer questions about the new lockdown in the North of England. 

He repeatedly defended the handling of the announcement during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, saying: “When we make decisions and publicise them, I do that as fast a possible. 

“People understand exactly what we are trying to achieve… it was the same with the change to travel guidance for people coming back from Spain.”

“I understand the impact this has on people’s lives, but people understand we need to make changes fast and move quickly,” Mr Hancock added, stressing that “what matters far more is the substance of decisions”.

“These are difficult decisions and it is far, far better that we get the message out as clearly as we can, as rapidly as we can,” he said, noting more questions would be answered at a press conference today.

Matt Hancock has said a second wave of coronavirus was “not yet” happening in the UK, and that the Government was “absolutely determined” to prevent it happening.

He added: “These measures are very much being taken to prevent a second wave – we can see that second wave in Europe.

Asked about the Islamic celebration of Eid which begins today, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Unfortunately this change does mean that people won’t be able to get together in their houses, in their gardens.

“But we are allowing mosques and other religious places to stay open because they’ve done so much work to allow for Covid-secure celebration and worship.”

Matt Hancock has said the Government announced the new restrictions “as soon as practical” and hit back at Labour’s “wrong” criticism. 

The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We do have to move fast sometimes… We have been working for some weeks trying to tackle rise in cases n more localised way.”

But the more general increase meant “we had to take action”, said Mr Hancock, pointing out that the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham supports the measures. 

He added: “We announced the decision as soon as practical and I think that is what people expect.”

But when challenged over the manner the announcement has been made, which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer damned as “a new low”, Mr Hancock said: “They are wrong. People very largely are following rules as we bring them in.”

No one would argue with putting in place local action to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.But announcing measures affecting potentially millions of people late at night on Twitter is a new low for the government’s communications during this crisis.

Matt Hancock has defended the decision to impose restrictions across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, after being criticised by some of his fellow Tories. 

William Wragg last night complained about the measures, saying it was “not the right approach” to treat the region as one. 

‘Greater Manchester’ is not one homogeneous area. We must always err on the side of caution with Covid, but to treat all 10 boroughs the same is not the right approach. I will update constituents as soon as I am given further information, other than what has been announced.

But Mr Hancock told Sky News: “Unfortunately we have seen an increase in the number of cases in Trafford and we also work with the local authority, and local authorities within Greater Manchester including the mayor, and took the decision to apply this across the whole of Greater Manchester…

“We had taken more targeted, more specific local action, for instance in Oldham and Blackburn. But we could see that it was spreading more widely than that so we had to take the action that we did.”

People living under the new restrictions in the North will be able to go to work and visit pubs in household units – but not visit each other’s homes. 

Matt Hancock said this was because Test and Trace data has shown “most of the transmission is happening between households” and between people visiting family and friends.

The Health Secretary told BBC Breakfast: “Whenever anybody tests positive, the vast majority of them we manage to speak to, and we ask which contacts they’ve had, and that’s shown that the vast majority of contact of people who have the virus, other than people in their own household… is from households visiting and then visiting friends and relatives.

“One of the terrible things about this virus is it thrives on the sort of social contact that makes life worth living and that is a serious problem with the virus.”

The Government will not “shy away” from taking further action to tackle coronavirus across England if necessary, Matt Hancock has said. 

After the late- night decision to impose a lockdown across much of the North, the Health Secretary warned the same action would be taken in the South if required. 

He told Sky News: “We’ve demonstrated that we’re prepared to take the action that’s necessary to keep people safe.

“That was true in Leicester when we took action there and we’re taking much more localised action in hundreds of different locations right across the country.

“And we are seeing in some parts of the country that increase in the number of cases and we take action where we need to.

“Now, in the South West and the South East of England, thankfully, the number of cases is much, much lower so we haven’t had to take this sort of action.

“Of course we’d rather not because of the impact it has on people’s lives, but we’re prepared to if that’s needed.”

Matt Hancock has insisted the Government was right to announce the lockdown, affecting much of the north of England, late last night because ministers must move fast in the circumstances. 

The Health Secretary told Sky News: “We made the announcement last night, we are moving quickly in some circumstances and I think that’s very important and it’s one of the things that when you face a pandemic like this, it is important sometimes to move quickly, if that’s what’s needed.

“And I’m pleased that Andy Burnham is supporting this action. It’s absolutely necessary and of course sometimes we have to move quickly when we can see the growth of the virus and I understand the impact of decisions like these.

“I understand that this is not a sort of decision that anybody would want to take, but as we’ve seen before, it is important to move quickly because the virus spreads and you’ve got to make sure you do everything you can do keep ahead of it.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said the Government was right to take action in the north of England after it became clear that the picture on Covid-19 cases had changed.

He told Sky News: “On the substance, we do accept that these steps are needed. They’re modest steps.

“We’re asking people not to have visitors at home, if they go to the pub to stick within their own household – steps that hopefully will prevent much more severe restrictions if we take firm action at this time.”

The former minister said the data supported the move, and Matt Hancock and his team were “right to take quick action.”

However he criticised the way the announcement was made, saying “they have a habit of saying something and then it being a few hours until the detail emerges”, saying it made people feel “very uncertain about what exactly was being announced”.

Effective from midnight, people from different households were banned from meeting indoors in Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendleton, Rossendale, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.

The same restrictions will apply to the city of Leicester. It reverses new freedoms announced by the Prime Minister on June 23.

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Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMibmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnRlbGVncmFwaC5jby51ay9wb2xpdGljcy8yMDIwLzA3LzMxL2JvcmlzLWpvaG5zb24tbG9jYWwtbG9ja2Rvd24tbmV3cy11ay1tYW5jaGVzdGVyLWJyZXhpdC1sYXRlc3Qv0gFyaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cudGVsZWdyYXBoLmNvLnVrL3BvbGl0aWNzLzIwMjAvMDcvMzEvYm9yaXMtam9obnNvbi1sb2NhbC1sb2NrZG93bi1uZXdzLXVrLW1hbmNoZXN0ZXItYnJleGl0LWxhdGVzdC9hbXAv?oc=5

News – Politics latest news: Matt Hancock denies Northern lockdown aimed at Eid

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