Manchester lockdown FURY: Andy Burnham hits back at No10’s ‘divide and rule’ Covid tactics

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Greater Manchester, along with Newcastle, Leeds and Birmingham, will enter into strengthened Tier 3 restrictions once the national lockdown ends on December 2, the Government has announced. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, told Sky News that he understood the reason for the decision but, much like his last fight with the Government, was concerned about the level of support being offered to businesses affected. Mr Burham responded to Matt Hancock’s claim that the previous tier row had been “bad for public health” because decisions weren’t taken in time while coronavirus cases continued to rise.

He told Sky: “We’re having positive discussions with the Government about that, and that’s how it should be.

“I would say that the divide and rule tactics should definitely be left to one side.

“Matt Hancock says a delay was bad for public health, well who caused the delay?

“Why didn’t the Government listen to what we were saying, particularly since it, in the end, agreed with what we were saying?”

Mr Burnham continued: “I don’t think we’ll get through this pandemic if the Government just dictates everything from on high, and only looks at the virus and doesn’t look at the wider damage done by closing people’s jobs down.

“The two things have to be looked at together: the health support and the economic support.

“We’ll carry on making that argument in exactly the way I’m doing today.

“How can ministers justify not giving any extra funding to Tier 3 areas than the funding they’re giving to Tier 1 areas? It doesn’t make sense.”

In contrast to Manchester, Liverpool will be moving down into Tier 2 restrictions once lockdown ends.

The northern city had accepted the Government’s order to move into Tier 3 without fighting like Mr Burnham.

The Greater Manchester Mayor was asked whether he now regretted the row, and not receiving the additional support that would have come from entering into the higher tier earlier.

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He told Sky: “If standing up for people on low pay is something the Government thinks should be punished, then that is a matter for them. I certainly wouldn’t ever regret doing that.

“Going back to that very public disagreement of last month, we were ready to work with the Government.

“But all the things that I was calling for, a full furlough, support for the self-employed, back-dated costs for having been in Tier 2 for months, are all things the Government eventually agreed to, just not at the time we were asking.

“So I would say the delay was created by the Government, but it was only a matter of days anyway.

“So no I don’t in any way regret standing up for the people and businesses of Greater Manchester, that is my job.”

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