Suffolk and north Essex MPs back reintroduction of three-tier system

MPs voted on the three-tier system on Tuesday evening

MPs voted on the three-tier system on Tuesday evening - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

MPs across Suffolk and north Essex voted to reintroduce the three-tier system when the national coronavirus lockdown ends on Wednesday.

A parliament vote to reintroduce the three-tier restrictions used before the lockdown was passed by 291 votes to 78 on Tuesday evening.

The tiers, which have been strengthened, begin again on Wednesday but would not have passed if the government was defeated in the vote.

Suffolk and Essex, along with the rest of the East of England, have been placed under Tier 2 measures.

All seven Suffolk MPs - Tom Hunt, Dr Dan Poulter, Therese Coffey, Peter Aldous, James Cartlidge, Jo Churchill and Matt Hancock - voted for the measures, as did Will Quince, Giles Watling and Sir Bernard Jenkin over the border in Essex.

Tom Hunt, Ipswich MP, said he voted for the tier system but believed the government should offer more support for businesses affected by Tier 2 measures, especially in the hospitality sector.

He said: "Voting for restrictions on the lives of my constituents is not the reason I became an MP and it's not something that sits comfortably with me at all.

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"I have also made clear that we need to balance the need to protect lives with the need to protect livelihoods. This is the main reason why this decision is such a painful one to make."

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter added: "I remain in the view that Suffolk should be in Tier 1.

"But this isn't a vote about Suffolk - it's a vote about the virus in the country. We've got a very nasty disease and we have to have restrictions.

"On balance, I've taken a view that this is the right thing to do. It is with a heavy heart that we put these restrictions in place.

"If we don't keep this under control, infection rates in Suffolk won't remain low for long."

Speaking in the House of Commons ahead of the vote, Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said: "We must look upon this period as a further period of transition to when vaccines will begin to become available.

"In the meantime, the challenge is to ensure we can move down the tiers - not just into Tier 1, but to remain in Tier 1.

"The last thing I want is to vote for these restrictions. But until there are better alternatives, we have no real alternative and should support them."