Boris Johnson must provide fair treatment for lockdown-hit businesses after James Dyson row - The Yorkshire Post says

Boris Johnson offered a staunch defence of his dealings with Sir James Dyson after it emerged the pair exchanged text messages in which the Prime Minister promised to “fix” the businessman’s concerns about the tax status of his workers when his company was seeking to build ventilators at the start of the Covid crisis.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament in London. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

But while Mr Johnson understandably saw those exchanges as part of his attempts to do everything he could to secure the necessary medical equipment for the country at a time of great crisis, it does little to shift the growing perception surrounding his Government that those with personal links to Ministers have doors opened for them which others do not. In that light, Mr Johnson would be wise to heed the pleas of businesses who are seeking more time and flexibility to repay debts accrued as a result of the closures imposed by repeated lockdowns.

That those calls are being backed by Labour should not deter the Prime Minister in taking action – as he has pointed out himself on multiple occasions during the Covid crisis, policy decisions should be based on doing the right thing by the public not political point-scoring.

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To take just one example of the extreme situations some businesses in Yorkshire are finding themselves in, the owners of Stump Cross Caverns tourist attraction have put a personal property up as a prize in a bid to raise money to carry out site repairs after missing out on a Government grant.

Mr Johnson clearly feels he acted in the public interest in relation to his exchanges with Mr Dyson and the Government can point to the furlough scheme and multiple grant schemes as ways in which they have helped businesses during Covid. But he must now act to show those businesses who do not have a hotline to Downing Street that they can still get the help they need when required.

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