A vocal critic of the Government’s tiered
Stratford-On-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi has been temporarily appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Health Department.
The role – which is set to last until next Summer at the earliest – will involve him deploying the eagerly-awaited
The newly-appointed vaccine tsar has criticised Government’s tiered structure which will see his constituency thrust into Tier 3 lockdown next week despite low infection rates.
The news of Mr Zahawi’s new role comes amid a brewing Tory rebellion as furious backbenchers accuse the Government of risking catastrophic damage to the economy with its controversial system for life post-national lockdown.
One furious MP predicted that as many as 70 MPs would rebel against the measures in a Commons showdown next week, which could see Boris Johnson relying on support from Labour to get the new restrictions approved.
Their anger has been fuelled by reports that it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect areas under the toughest Covid curbs – Tiers 2 and 3 – to move down to Tier 1 before spring, in a plan dubbed a ‘virtual lockdown’.
Stratford-On-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi has been temporarily appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Health Department
Warwickshire – where Mr Zahawi’s constituency of Stratford-on-Avon resides – will see pubs, bars and restaurants remain closed when England’s national lockdown ends on December 2.
Although the Warwickshire town’s already low rates are falling still further, it has found itself lumped in with the rest of the county. Yet towns in nearby Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, with higher rates, are in Tier Two.
Stratford has an infection rate of 105.3 per 100,000. Among the over-60s the rate is even lower, at 74 per 100,000, while the hospitalisation rate is also low, with fewer than two people a day being admitted.
The town recorded 137 new cases in the week ending November 22 – a drop of 67.
At a more local level, the area of Stratford South East and Torrington had just four cases – a rate of 48.2 per 100,000. But nearby Redditch in Worcestershire, with a rate of 240 cases per 100,000, is in Tier Two.
Following the Government’s announcement, Mr Zahawi said: ‘I am hugely disappointed and sad that Warwickshire will be moving into Tier 3 next week, in particular because of the effect this will have on our hospitality and tourism industries who have already been through so much this year.
‘It seems that the high numbers of infections, especially among those over 60, and hospitalisations in the north of the county have counted against us.
‘I understand the concerns raised by large numbers of constituents about why the restrictions in Stratford-on-Avon are being affected by factors in areas further away from us than from our immediate neighbours, such as Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, both of whom will be moving into Tier 2 next week.’
Following his appointment, a Downing Street said in a statement: ‘The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Nadhim Zahawi MP as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.
‘He remains a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.’
Mr Zahawi will focus on the deployment of the coronavirus vaccine, with the temporary arrangement set to last until at least next summer.