Boris Johnson is facing a 'cabinet row' over plans for a tougher coronavirus crackdown, as Northern city leaders last night pleaded with ministers not to impose lockdown-style measures.
Amid growing talk of a Tory back bench rebellion over his 10pm Covid curfew, The Prime Minister is said to be facing a deepening split between senior ministers - some of whom want to protect the economy and others who are calling for tougher restrictions.
It comes as leaders from four Covid-hit northern cities, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle have written to Mr Johnson begging him not to ramp-up curbs.
Meanwhile, the government's scientific advisors have demand reportedly demanded ministers take 'urgent and drastic action' to curb spiralling infection figures and growing hospital admission.
The warning came as Rishi Sunak last night made an 11th-hour intervention to delay the announcement of a new three-tier Covid alert system, the Telegraph reports.
In a bid for tighter control over any new lockdown measures, the Chancellor is understood to want to create a new three-person committee of himself, the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, to decide which towns are placed into the highest alert level, the paper reports.
Such a committee would exclude restriction-favouring Michael Gove from the decision-making process, the paper adds.
Boris Johnson is facing a cabinet row over his tougher coronavirus crackdown plans, according to reports, as Northern city leaders last night pleaded with ministers not to impose lockdown-style measures. It comes as Rishi Sunak made an 11th-hour intervention to delay the announcement of a new three-tier Covid alert system, the Telegraph reports.
It comes amid growing discontent among Tory backbenchers over the government's 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses.
Yesterday a parliamentary vote on the curfew was delayed until next Monday following reports that Tory MPs were planning to join forces with Labour and vote down the plans.
Meanwhile, fresh speculation about further government action intensified yesterday as the UK reported 14,542 new coronavirus cases – an increase of almost 2,000 on the previous 24 hours.
The increase continued after a return to correct figures, following two days of abnormal data cased by a 'computer glitch' which saw 16,000 cases missed off the government's reporting system.
Last night, Test and Trace call handlers continued to scramble to find 6,000 remaining positive cases in a bid to track down those they may have come into contact to - who may themselves now be spreading the virus unknowingly, the Telegraph reports.
Along with growing infection data, yesterday's figures also showed a rise in hospitalisations to the highest daily total in four months.
In another blow to hopes the virus is being brought under control, official NHS data shows there were 478 new hospital admissions in England on Sunday - the most recent day figures are available for.
The figure is 25 per cent increase on Saturday's data, when 386 people were admitted the hospital with Covid-19. It also represents a four-month high, the likes of which have not been seen since June 3, when the figure was 491.
Data also shows the number of people on ventilators is on the rise, from 259 a week ago to 349 on Sunday.
In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the four leaders of northern cities said they were 'extremely concerned about the sharp increase' in new coronavirus cases in their areas.
But while hospital admissions have increased, the number of people dying in hospital of the virus remains considerably lower than at the start of the pandemic.
On top of that, figures show hospital admission figures are still low in some areas, such as the south of England.
The latest surge in cases has been particularly acute across major cities in the North and Midlands, with Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham all recording big increases – driven in part by the return of university students.
Plans are being finalised for a new three-tier system to tackle local outbreaks that could see pubs, restaurants and cinemas shut in parts of England.
These were expected to be unveiled next week but could be brought forward to the end of this week if current trends continue.
Officials have also refused to rule out further national measures.
In a sign of an imminent clampdown, Mr Sunak was