MPs hit out after being excluded from local lockdown briefings

Several MPs say they learned of Covid plans via WhatsApp or had less than 20 minutes’ notice

MPs have voiced anger at being excluded from briefings about local lockdown restrictions in their areas, learning of plans via internal WhatsApp groups or being offered briefings with less than 20 minutes’ notice.

Several MPs told the Guardian they had listened to briefings from the Department of Health on what restrictions would be placed on their constituencies while standing in the vestibules of trains to London.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, said she learned via Twitter that her home constituency of Wigan was being placed in a tier 2 lockdown, suggesting ministers had not thought to include her in a call with Greater Manchester MPs.

“Apparently there was a government briefing for GM MPs but I can’t provide details because I wasn’t invited,” she tweeted. “I suspect this is because they don’t know where Wigan is. What an absolute shambles.”

Barbara Keeley, the Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South, also said she had been left off the invite list.

Charlotte Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington, said she had been invited to a briefing for Merseyside MPs which was then withdrawn. “Warrington is not in Merseyside, it is not in the Liverpool city region, it never has been and if you’re going to make decisions that affect us the very least you could do is recognise that fact,” she tweeted.


Jim McMahon, the shadow transport secretary and MP for Oldham, said he received an invite to a briefing with the health secretary, Matt Hancock, 21 minutes before it was due to start, while he was on a train to London. The Commons sits from 2.30pm on a Monday, in part to allow MPs time to travel to Westminster from their constituencies. “This is really poor even by current standards, like most things it appears an afterthought,” he said.

Navendu Mishra, the Labour MP for Stockport, said the timing showed “complete disdain by this government for all those who live and work in Greater Manchester”.

Labour’s Alex Cunningham, the MP for Stockton North, said he had been invited to a briefing eight minutes after the 20-minute meeting had started. “I got there with three minutes to go. How can people have confidence in ministers when they behave in such a way?” he said.

Louise Haigh, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary and the MP for Sheffield Heeley, said she only found out about a briefing for South and West Yorkshire MPs five minutes after it began.

A West Yorkshire MP said he did not receive an invite to the meeting, and only became aware of it when other MPs in their WhatsApp group starting discussing the measures.


Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

The GuardianTramp

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