Critics react to Matt Hancock's comments on London to Leeds exodus and point finger at government over Covid changes and Tier u-turns

The government has come under fire for its handling of the Christmas bubbles and Tier 4 lockdown after scenes showed people leaving London in their droves on Saturday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday, blasted people who left the capital just before Tier 4 lockdown began as 'totally irresponsible'.

But others aimed back at the government, accusing leaders of chopping and changing just days before Christmas.

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Lisa Nandy rejected suggestions that tougher coronavirus restrictions in the UK were due to “small acts of selfishness”, saying: “I think the problem is not the people of this country, I think the problem is their Government.

The government was criticised after Matt Hancock called out people leaving London

“My sense is that people are trying very hard to follow the rules…and to do the right thing, not just to protect themselves but to protect other people as well,” she said.

“But it has been very, very confusing over the last few months.”

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, she added: “We’ve been in and out of lockdown, the rules have changed and this week was a perfect example of the Prime Minister…making a promise he knew he couldn’t keep about Christmas.

“I think we have this ongoing drumbeat of dither from the Government, of making bold statements about world beating systems when they can’t even make those systems function.”

The government was criticised after Matt Hancock called out people leaving London

@JenbarLUFC said on Twitter: "Oh would you look at that. Ridiculous and late decisions by a govt that doesn't know its considerable arsehole from its elbow are blaming the public. Again."

@SgtArthurWilson said: "Now contrast the complete incompetence and mismanagement of this crisis by Johnson and his cronies to that of Australia and NZ. Outbreaks in Aus are met quickly with strict lockdown measures, here we have people travelling across the UK for work and leisure.

@jcanlin added: ‘It’s your fault’ government tells the public again".

@menu09452042 said: "Nice one Boris you are the superspreader. The govt should have controlled the area and not let the southerners spread it further."

@Y13GEO added: "This is disgusting, why were tickets sold that allowed social distancing to be broken. Fine the train company for a major breakdown which allowed this to occur."

But @stevenyowkins said people should take personal responsibility too, adding: "Government incompetence mixed with selfish people who put themselves before the greater good."

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the decision to move the capital into Tier 4 throughout the Christmas period was a “big blow” to families and businesses.

He said: “This eleventh-hour decision by the Prime Minister is a big blow to Londoners who were looking forward to spending time with their families, and businesses looking forward to having a decent couple of weeks in the lead-up to Christmas and the New Year, and are now forced to close.

“I’m really angry at the response given by the Prime Minister and the raised expectations over the relaxation of rules at Christmas.

“I think it’s the right thing to do having these restrictions, I think it’s right and proper to act early – but a decision should have been made far, far sooner than Saturday.”

Mr Khan said the likelihood this year’s festive season would not be normal was foreseeable “months ago”, and argued that people had wanted clarity in order to make decisions about whether or not to visit family.

He said: “As recently as last week on Tuesday I was pleading with the Government not to relax the rules for those days over Christmas because we could see that the virus was spreading, particularly with those who have no symptoms of the virus. And I made the point that it was daft for us to move from lockdown into Tier 2 and then Tier 3, and then to Tier 0, and then back to Tier 3 again.

“The Government accused us of trying to cancel Christmas. Now all this was conceivable. What people want is clarity – instead what we got was stop-start change, marching us up a hill, then marching us down, marching us back up the hill, then marching us down again.”