SNP’s ‘gelatinous behaviour’ shamed by PM in brutal Commons clash with Ian Blackford

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The SNP Westminster leader accused the Prime Minister of inflicting a “tsunami of unemployment” on British taxpayers this winter as he argued the imminent ending of the coronavirus furlough scheme will force more businesses to the wall. As Boris Johnson reminded the House of Commons Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already unveiled a job retention scheme to keep supporting people and businesses during the winter months, Mr Blackford blasted: “People don’t want to hear excuses they want actions.”

“We’re heading towards a Tory winter,” he added.

The SNP MP then attempted to take a swipe at the latest Government’s controversial advertising poster which suggested a ballerina called ‘Fatima’ could retrain to work in cyber to survive the economic effects of the pandemic.

He said: “The Prime Minister’s next job could be on the backbenchers, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

But the joke immediately backfired as the Prime Minister replied: “One thing I will congratulate him on is the Scottish Nationalist Party’s support for the tiered approach, which I think it’s still their policy – unlike the party opposite.

“At least they’re showing some vestige of consistency in their normal gelatinous behaviour.”

Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to impose a national circuit-breaker lockdown, as officials discuss whether the severest local restrictions should be extended to new regions.

The Prime Minister’s new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England came into effect on Wednesday, but the Liverpool region is the only area to be under the toughest rules.

Government health officials are expected to discuss with councillors in Greater Manchester and Lancashire whether to classify the areas as “very high”.

But Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said that the Tier 3 restrictions are “fundamentally flawed” and “we won’t accept it”.

The row came as a model by scientists advising the Government suggested thousands of deaths could be prevented by a short national lockdown over half-term.

They argued that the coronavirus resurgence could be brought back under control by the so-called circuit-breaker that would buy ministers time to improve the test and trace system.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer heaped pressure onto the Prime Minister by publicly calling for a two- to three-week national lockdown over the October half term.

He said the measure, suggested by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) last month, was needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.

Downing Street is understood to be keeping the idea on the table, but initially went for a fresh range of less stringent measures to be imposed locally in COVID-19 hotspots.

Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford told Sky News he is “very actively talking about and preparing for” a circuit-breaker for the nation.

Northern Ireland is also bracing for a four-week shutdown of pubs and restaurants.

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said England’s tiered system would “give an idea” of a similar scheme she is developing, which could come into effect when stricter measures are due to be eased on October 25.

In Greater Manchester, Labour’s Mr Burnham and council leaders across the region were resisting the “fundamentally flawed” highest level of restrictions without greater financial support.

“If the Government pursues its current strategy, we believe it will leave large parts of the North of England trapped in Tier 3 for much of the winter with all the damage that will do,” they said.

“If cases continue to rise as predicted, and the Government continues to refuse to provide the substantial economic support that Tier 3 areas will need, then a number of leaders in Greater Manchester believe a national circuit-break, with the required financial support would be a preferable option.”

However, in Lancashire, county council leader Geoff Driver said it is “inevitable” his region would enter Tier 3.

“It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy,” the Conservative told BBC Breakfast.

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