Eddie Mair challenges Tory MP over 'nonsensical' Christmas rule relaxation

15 December 2020, 13:17

By Fiona Jones

Eddie Mair challenged Conservative MP Nickie Aiken over the "nonsensical" decision to keep Christmas rule relaxation as London is plunged into Tier Three due to "horrifying coronavirus figures".

London is to enter Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in covid cases in the capital, Matt Hancock confirmed to MPs on Monday.

The Tier 3 announcement for the city comes after data revealed the number of new coronavirus cases rose in every single London borough in the week to 10 December.

The capital will be joined by parts of Essex and Hertfordshire from one minute past midnight on Wednesday morning in facing the toughest Covid restrictions.

Eddie asked Ms Aiken why, after this decision, London's tier status will be reviewed after Christmas relaxation begins, fearing it will lead to mass flouting of the rules.

"We are where we are, Eddie," Ms Aiken said, causing Eddie to repeatedly ask her the question.

"It's got to make sense, why on earth would people adhere to something that's nonsense?" Eddie asked, "Does it make sense for the rules to be relaxed next Wednesday before the rules have been completed?"

Ms Aiken responded that "we've been promised" that people can see their loved ones, to which Eddie asked: "So you've seen the horrifying figures but it's more important we see our loved ones at Christmas?"

"People have to make their decisions," Ms Aiken said.

"No, the Government has to set the rules and that's what we're talking about," Eddie said.

The MP for City of London and Westminster said she has made the decision not to see her father at Christmas "because it's the right thing to do."

Eddie responded: "My question is this: you're saying it's very important we have strict rules...but you're saying it's also very important that from next Wednesday, because of the date in the calendar because it's Christmas, we simply have to say to people do what you think is best?

"You've seen the graphs, I'm asking you do you think that makes any sense at all?"

Ms Aiken reiterated that people "must do what's best" for their families and communities.

As well as London entering Tier Three, the Health Secretary also announced that a "new variant" of coronavirus has been identified in the UK which "may be associated with the faster spread in the South East".

He said: "Over the last few days, thanks to our world-class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the South of England."

The minister said the numbers of the new variant of coronavirus "are increasing rapidly", telling the Commons: "Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.

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