Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has accused the government of treating the region as a “sacrificial lamb” and vowed: “We aren’t going to be pushed around any more.”
Leaders in Greater Manchester have rejected being put into the highest category of the government’s new three-tier system for localised COVID-19 restrictions, amid a bitter political row.
A call between Greater Manchester leaders and Downing Street officials failed to reach an agreement on new restrictions on Thursday.
And, after those inconclusive talks, Mr Burnham revealed: “Today we communicated our clear and unanimous view to the government.
“It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support for the people and businesses affected.”
In an outspoken attack on the government’s new localised lockdown system, Mr Burnham accused ministers of treating Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire as “the canaries in the coalmine” for the “experimental” strategy.
Urging the government to pursue a different course and consider a return to stringent England-wide restrictions, the Greater Manchester mayor said: “I’ve said it may be that we need to look at a national circuit-break as preferable to this unfunded, risky regional lockdown strategy.
“We have to protect the health of the nation but let’s do it as one nation, and not make the North of England the sacrificial lamb for an ill-thought-through Downing Street policy which doesn’t make sense in the real world.”
He added the government was “treating us with contempt”, adding: “People are fed up of being treated in this way, the North is fed up of being pushed around.
“We aren’t going to be pushed around any more.”