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BORIS JOHNSON came under pressure from within his own party today after a group of 55 northern England Tory MPs called on him to issue a “road map out of lockdown.”
Many of the MPs represent former “Red Wall” constituencies that the Tories won from Labour in last December’s general election, enabling them to take power.
The 55 Tories have formed the Northern Research Group, led by the former “Northern Powerhouse” minister Jake Berry.
They represent many of the areas in the north of England that have been worst hit by the government’s Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.
Mr Berry said: “The virus has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities and it threatens to continue to increase the disparity between the north and south still further.
“Our constituents have been some of the hardest hit by this virus, with many losing jobs, businesses and livelihoods.
“Never has there been a more pertinent and urgent political and economic case to support people living in the north.
“However, instead of moving forwards on our shared ambitions, the cost of Covid and the virus itself threatens to send the north into reverse.”
The Tory MPs’ intervention adds to the pressure on the Prime Minister, who is already struggling with a PR disaster over the government’s refusal to continue providing free school meals to England’s most vulnerable and deprived youngsters during their October half-term break.
Labour’s Bridget Phillipson, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Even Boris Johnson’s own MPs know that he cannot be trusted to deliver on his promises.
“The government has been treating local communities with contempt.
“The decision not to extend free school meals is the clearest sign yet that the Conservatives have the wrong priorities and are not on the side of British families.”
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