A Lancashire MP has branded a meeting with the government over potential changes to Covid restrictions “a total farce”.

After a morning of feverish talks with MPs and council leaders, the county is staying in Tier 2 of the Covid alert levels – for now.

It had been expected that a Commons statement by health secretary Matt Hancock this morning would announce a shift for most or all of the county into the most restrictive Tier 3.

But Mr. Hancock instead told the House: “No further decisions have yet been made, but we need to make rapid progress.

“Delayed action means more deaths from Covid. more non-Covid deaths and more economic pain later, because the virus comes down slower than it goes up – so we should stop it up going up in the first place.”

A definitive decision had been expected after almost a week of discussions with local authority leaders.

However, one county MP told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The call with Lancashire’s MPs was a total farce.

“It started late, the minister appeared unsure what was happening and local MPs were denied the opportunity ask questions.”

Lancashire has been trying to negotiate a funding package worth nearly £50m more than the £12m believed to be on offer from the government – including a massive discretionary grant scheme to support businesses directly or indirectly affected by a tougher lockdown.

Lancashire’s 15 leaders were set to hold another meeting of their number, after they too were invited onto a call with government officials.

Sources have told the LDRS that a decision could still be made about Lancashire’s status today.