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Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he abstained from vote on second lockdown as he didn't believe it was 'right' for the town

The only Suffolk MP who did not vote in favour of a second national lockdown in England has said he 'fundamentally couldn't justify' supporting it.

Tom Hunt, Conservative MP for Ipswich , was the only MP representing the county who did not vote for the measures aiming to curb the spread of coronavirus in the Commons yesterday, which came into force today, and abstained from the vote.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Mr Hunt said he felt 'conflicted' as he didn't believe a national lockdown was 'right' for Ipswich, but he understood why the Government thought it might be necessary for the country as a whole.

Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, is now in self-isolation. Picture: House of Commons (42535651)
Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, is now in self-isolation. Picture: House of Commons (42535651)

He said: "I am well aware of the threat that Covid-19 poses and the need for action to be taken to prevent its spread but as I've said repeatedly over the past few months, it's critically important to balance the need to protect lives, livelihoods and liberties.

"The reality is that despite the support packages provided by the Government, livelihoods have already been destroyed by the restrictions associated with lockdowns and sadly there will be much more hardship that will come as a result of this second lockdown."

The Ipswich MP said a poll he conducted, which more than 1,000 constituents took part in, found that 58 per cent were supportive of a national lockdown until December 2, with 42 per cent against.

"It's clear that the Prime Minister is doing what he believes is best to protect our country in very difficult circumstances," he added.

"And I know that he is acutely aware of the harm that lockdowns cause which is why Government has promoted a regional approach to tackling the spread of the virus.

"I know the Prime Minister has made this decision with nothing other best interests of this country in mind and it’s one that has pained him to take."

Mr Hunt said he knew some of his constituents would agree with Boris Johnson on the decision around lockdown, but he 'fundamentally couldn't justify' voting for a second national lockdown.

"There is currently no certainty around a Covid vaccine and I fear that once we enter into this second national lockdown it could lead to a spiral of further lockdowns," he added.

"Ultimately, post 2 December, I think there needs to be a new comprehensive strategy balancing the need to protect lives, livelihoods and liberties at its heart.

"There was some evidence that the regional approach was beginning to bear fruit and I believe that further steps could have been taken to improve the regional approach without resorting to the blunt instrument of a national lockdown that treats all areas the same regardless of their levels of Covid-19 or the ability of their local NHS to cope with the pressure.

"It's vital that we return to a regional approach post 2 December.”

Despite being conflicted for the parliamentary vote, Mr Hunt said people must now 'respect' the lockdown and 'make the most of it' to suppress the virus and protect the NHS.

"Hopefully with this focus we can ensure that more relaxed restrictions are in place for the Christmas period, and that it will buy us time for a game changing moment whether it’s a vaccine or mass testing," Mr Hunt added.

The MP said any constituents who think he might be able to help them during lockdown should get in touch by emailing tom.hunt.mp@parliament.uk.

Read more: Lockdown 2: What you can and can't do

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