Boris Johnson has been accused of “an affront to London” over reported plans to place a quarantine ring around the capital should there be a second wave of coronavirus cases.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the prime minister following newspaper reports of the government’s “nuclear” plans to prevent another nationwide lockdown in the event of further spikes in COVID-19 infections.
According to The Sunday Times, Mr Johnson last week held a “war-gaming exercise” in 10 Downing Street; over how to respond to a second wave of coronavirus.
Ministers concluded that people would be advised not to travel in and out of London, raising the prospect of restrictions on those within a “border point” around the M25, the newspaper said.
In his letter to the prime minister on Monday, Mr Khan expressed his anger that London officials had not been involved in discussing plans that would mean “effectively sealing off the city”.
“Our surprise is that such far reaching contingency plans have been discussed; and tested without the involvement or awareness of London’s government,” Mr Khan said.
“This is clearly totally unacceptable and an affront to London and Londoners.”
The London mayor said in the letter, also signed by London Councils’ chair Peter Johnson; that he and other officials in the capital “know our communities and their needs far better than national government”.
Mr Khan criticised how decisions about the coronavirus response “continue to be taken without consultation with those who run and understand the country’s biggest city.”
“Some of these decisions – and the public messaging which flows from them – do not work for the unique nature of a major metropolitan area the size of London,” the letter said.
“The government would better understand that, if London’s government were treated properly; and brought into decision making.”
Mr Khan accused Mr Johnson of “riding roughshod over democratically elected representatives; who understand their communities better than central government;”and warned that the PM’s approach “will lead to worse outcomes for Londoners, and the country as a whole”.
“This must stop,” he also added.
Responding to Mr Khan’s letter, a senior government source told Sky News; “We published details of new local lockdown powers two weeks ago with those details in.
“They were widely reported at the time; and if the Mayor of London had been paying attention he would have noticed.”