The midday deadline for a deal on tougher COVID-19 restrictions in Greater Manchester have passed without news of a breakthrough
Boris Johnson and Andy Burnham have been speaking on the phone, as they try to set out an agreement on financial support, after local leaders in Manchester have been pushing for the UK government to increase their offer of £22 million up to £75 million to help the region’s struggling workers and firms, and to pay the local council more in order to improve rules enforcement and contact tracing.
Neither side has yet to say if an agreement has been struck. They had been racing to reach a compromise by 12pm on Tuesday, the deadline that was set last night by Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary.
The Prime Minister had made it clear last week that he is willing to impose the move to Tier 3 restrictions if stalemate remains “in order to protect Manchester’s hospitals and save the lives of Manchester residents”.
This comes after the new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will take Wales back to the same restrictions that were introduced back in March, with most businesses in the country shutting down, and people being told to stay at home and to work from home if possible.
That would bring around three million people into the highest band of coronavirus restrictions in the country, as the UK battles a second spike of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Boris Johnson had told his senior cabinet members on Tuesday that he has “sought to work constructively with leaders across Greater Manchester” but stated that “cases continue to be extremely high across the region”.
“The most worrying rises are in the 60+ age group where the case rate tripled in the 15 days up to 12 October,”
Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne, challenged the chancellor in parliament, saying that said local leaders are only requesting “proper financial support… after 12 weeks of failed lockdown measures” and asked: “Why does this government hate Greater Manchester?”
Rishi Sunak said he was “disappointed” with Mr Gwynne’s “tone” and politicians should “act in a constructive spirit”, adding he was already “helping the most vulnerable in our society”.
This comes after a four-week “circuit breaker” style lockdown will come into force throughout Northern Ireland on Friday in an attempt to stall the rise in coronavirus infections.
Earlier, Mayor Andy Burnham criticised what he had called a “provocative” and “late-night ultimatum” by Mr Jenrick.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester has accused ministers of “trying to penny pinch” with their offer of £22m.
But he went on to say that he would “accept” the Tier 3 being restrictions being imposed if the Prime Minister chooses to put them in place, because it is Boris Johnson’s “prerogative” and that he “wouldn’t break the law”.