A CIRCUIT-breaker national lockdown is not the solution to stopping the spread of coronavirus, say local politicians who accused Labour of ‘playing politics’ for suggesting the measure.

Labour Leader Kier Starmer has called for national lockdown of up to three weeks to act as a so-called ‘circuit breaker’ to stem the rising tide of coronavirus cases.

However, politicians including Darlington's Conservative MP Peter Gibson and the Independent Middlesbrough Mayor, Andy Preston, accused Mr Starmer of playing political games and warned another full lockdown - even a short one - would be devastating for the economy.

Mr Gibson said: “He (Mr Starmer) talked about a circuit breaker two hours after his own Shadow Health Secretary said it would be devastating for the country.

“He is an entirely opportunistic politician and he is playing for an audience. A national lockdown would be devastating for our economy, just when we are starting to bounce back and the hospitality industry is starting to bounce back thanks to the investment of eat out to help out.

“A national lockdown is absolutely not what we need whilst we can still manage the virus with the steps we have in place.

“We have got to nurture the economy whilst protecting people’s health and getting that balance right is what the government is committed to doing.

“Do the people of Darlington want a lockdown? I don’t think so.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston was equally scathing of Mr Starmer’s circuit-breaker suggestion, saying it should only be used if hospitals were becoming overwhelmed.

He claimed the Covid situation has become ‘monstrously party political’ and said that the three tier system added unnecessary complication to an already stressful time.

Mr Preston said: “If the rules are clear, common sense and were consistently reiterated and shared, then all that needs to be done is enforcement.

He added: “Forget the tiers for now, what we need are clear, basic rules that are enforced and non-corformers fined.”

Kevan Jones, Labour MP for North Durham, said the recently-imposed tier system lockdown ‘won’t work’ and said the government has lost control of the virus.

He was supportive of Mr Starmer’s circuit breaker call, saying: “In terms of a national circuit breaker, I would support that because it would be a clear message for everyone.

“People are confused now, but that (a circuit breaker) also needs to go along with an effective test and trace system.”

Meanwhile, leaders of authorities across the Tees Valley are due to meet Downing Street officials on Friday to press for more support for the region.

It has been orchestrated by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen who said said it is ‘absolutely right' that leaders from across the political spectrum come together and fight for the best deal for the region.