Andy Burnham has blasted the government for treating Greater Manchester as a 'canary in the coal mine' and telling northern leaders 'there's no money left' for full financial support under Tier 3 restrictions.
The Greater Manchester Mayor said today that cities in the north were being used as part of an 'experimental regional lockdown strategy'.He added that the government had told him that 'there's no money left' for his demands if the region was placed under Tier 3 restrictions - which includes an 80 per cent furlough for people affected.
He said that Downing Street's plans for imposing a tier three lockdown in the region were 'flawed and unfair'.
Mr Burnham stood alongside Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes and Leader of the Council Sir Richard Leese outside the Manchester Central Library this afternoon and said they have 'unanimously' told the government they oppose the regional restrictions.He said 'the north is fed up of being pushed around' but that leaders 'won't led that happen' as tougher restrictions are opposed.
The only thing certain to work, as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer told us last night, is a national lockdown. But the government told us this morning it is unwilling to do that because of the damage it will do to the national economy. And yet that is what they want to impose on the North West.
The mayor also blasted Downing Street for not offering enough support or 'necessary financial backing' for full lockdowns in places like Greater Manchester and Liverpool.As the government causes confusion for Greater Manchester, millions across our region face uncertainty - this is what you're saying
He said the government had told him there was 'no money left' to offer full support for people affected by tougher coronavirus restrictions but that he 'didn't believe it for one second'.
I look today at some of the fees they are paying to consultants working on the failed test and trace scheme. When I look at the billions thrown on a scheme that isn't working for Greater Manchester, money that has been found for other things this year, the argument I'm making is support people now, support people right now when they need it.
He continued: "Because by supporting people now you will save jobs and businesses that will be able to restart."It would save the country less to support them now rather than let businesses go to the wall."If it was good for the country at the start of the year why is it not good for the North West now when we need the support."
In talks with Greater Manchester leaders last night, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told them that the tiered restrictions are 'not certain to work'.The mayor said the government were 'asking us to gamble our residents’jobs, homes, and businesses and a large chunk of our economy', but that the region would 'stand firm'.
Sir Richard Leese added that leaders could not accept a deal that would 'damage thousands of people for no apparent benefit'.Mr Burnham's speech came after discussions were held between regional leaders and Downing Street earlier today.MPs branded the meetings an 'utter waste of time' after no decision was made as to whether Greater Manchester should be moved to a tier-three - or 'very high' - lockdown.