Thursday, 15 October 2020

Andy Burnham slams bungled bid to force Greater Manchester into Tier Three lockdown demanding bigger bailouts

 Andy Burnham launched a fresh salvo at the government's bungled bid to make Greater Manchester a 'sacrificial lamb' by imposing tougher lockdown today - demanding bigger bailouts and accusing Boris Johnson of southern bias. 

The region's mayor said the North was being treated like a 'canary in the coalmine' with experimental restrictions, claiming that if London was in the same position there would be a nationwide clampdown.  

His fierce intervention came as Britain today recorded 18,980 more coronavirus cases and 138 deaths. Department of Health figures show daily infections have risen just eight per cent in a week from 17,540 last Thursday. Just 77 fatalities were declared last Thursday.

 Although rising the numbers are still a far cry from the darkest days of the first wave in the spring, when more than 100,000 Britons were catching the virus every day and at least 1,000 infected patients died daily.

Mr Burnham's retort has led ministers to humiliatingly back off of plans to force a Manchester lockdown after Tories lined up alongside local Labour politicians, complaining about the assault on civil liberties and the economy.  

There had been widespread briefings overnight that the area would be shifted into the harshest Tier Three category along with Lancashire. However, the mood shifted abruptly after health minister Helen Whately held what was branded a 'sh**show' conference call with local MPs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been expected to announce the Tier Three news in a Commons statement. Instead he merely told the House that 'discussions are ongoing'. 

At a press call in Manchester, Mr Burnham said: 'Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire are being set up as the canaries in the coalmine for an experimental regional lockdown strategy as an attempt to prevent the expense of what is truly needed.

'The very least they should be offering the people of Greater Manchester who will be affected by these closures is a full and fair 80 per cent furlough for all affected workers, 80 per cent income support for people who are self-employed, and a proper compensation scheme for businesses. So far, they have not been prepared to offer that.'


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