Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch, said:

“Today, MPs face a choice, a difficult one, about how we handle the final months of this pandemic. While Labour will be abstaining in the vote on the tier system, a complete dereliction of duty, I will be taking my responsibility seriously.

“There are no easy answers, if there were, we wouldn’t be seeing the politicking that we are during this pandemic.

“The Government’s approach has always been to save lives and to protect our NHS from being overwhelmed. Without the measures we have taken so far, we know thousands of more people would have died and our NHS would have been overwhelmed. This is why I will continue to support the Government’s approach today.

“As your local MP, I cannot run away from hard choices. I am voting with my conscience and in line with detailed evidence and advice from local public health teams and front-line health service workers.

“The public have endured months of restrictions and I am well aware that patience in some quarters is wearing thin. But the virus has no boredom threshold and it continues to rob families of their loved ones, devastating lives and taking people before their time.

“As a businesswoman, I’m acutely aware of the impact continued measures will have on Redditch’s economy. Millions of pounds worth of support has already been distributed to Redditch businesses and the Government has made further funding available for businesses affected by continued restrictions. I stand ready to help businesses in any way I can.

“We have sacrificed so much this year, and it is incredibly painful to see our freedoms being curbed.

“I also know and fully appreciate that people will question the evidence and science behind the decisions on various aspects of the rules. I have scrutinised the detail carefully and I have decided that on balance, I judge continuing with restrictions is our best chance of protecting the NHS, saving lives and beating the virus in the long run.

“Many have challenged me to vote against the restrictions or have sought to show that the scientific evidence is wrong. I utterly reject these calls, and you can find detailed information on my website to support my position.

“If we are to be responsible for removing freedoms it is right, we are held to account. I believe in freedom; I am a Conservative and it should not be for the State to interfere in many of these matters. But the State also has a solemn duty to protect its citizens. It is impossible to put these two objectives side by side on any impact assessment, because how can I ever put a price on one person’s life to their loved ones? If I had been contacted by even one person who has lost a dear family member to the virus, calling on me to vote against these restrictions, I might pay them some heed.

“These are some of the most difficult decisions that I have grappled with but I could not sleep at night if I had not done everything I believed is within my power to save lives of people who did not ask to be infected by this ruthless virus.

“Let’s not give up and relent now after everything we’ve done this year to fight this virus. With the vaccine developments we’ve seen in recent weeks, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s not give in now and undo all our hard work and efforts.

“When this pandemic is over, and we’re close to the end now, I truly believe we will be able to look back and say, yes, we all played our part in this national effort to defeat this virus.”