Boris Johnson is expected to set out the Government’s next steps over a potential Tier 3 lockdown in Greater Manchester during a press conference on Tuesday, Downing Street has said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said talks had continued on Tuesday morning at official level ahead of the Government’s midday deadline for an agreement on the introduction of Tier 3 controls in the region.
Mr Johnson has also spoken directly to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following the passing of the deadline.
“The talks have been ongoing this morning. I am not in a position to confirm how that has been resolved,” the spokesman said.
The press conference will take place at 5pm on Tuesday.
In a furious attack on the Government’s handling of the clampdown earlier today, Mr Burnham said companies would go bust needlessly without more financial help, and the least well off would be hardest hit.
“We’re trying to respond to a pandemic on the cheap, that’s how it feels,” he said. “All of the experts — chief medical officer, chief scientific adviser, the deputy chief medical officer — every single one of them has said to us they are not certain Tier 3 will work.
“The only way it’s got a chance of working is if you fully fund it so that lots of things can close, so that they can have the maximum impact. The problem with the government strategy is it isn’t doing that, it’s trying to penny pinch on Tier 3.”
Mr Burnham said he would not encourage law-breaking if the curbs were imposed unilaterally by the Prime Minister. “Of course we wouldn’t break the law,” he said. “We’ve never said that we would.” But the level of anger in the North over the hospitality sector being virtually shut down was illustrated by the response of Hartlepool’s independent council leader, Shane Moore, to reports that his borough faced the same restrictions. He said he would tell the Government to “sod off”.
In addition, Sheffield regional mayor Dan Jarvis also said he was unable to agree a deal with Downing Street sufficient “to protect lives and livelihoods in South Yorkshire. They haven’t done that yet”.
The Government set a deadline of midday for Manchester’s leaders to agree to an economic support deal or have one imposed. After 11 unsuccessful days of negotiation, it sent a letter offering £22 million in extra support for enforcement and test and trace, plus an undisclosed offer of further help for businesses. This morning Mr Burnham and other leaders went into talks on a counter-proposal they hoped No 10 would accept. However, Downing Street sources rejected one of Mr Burnham’s key demands, which was more cash for poorer families put on furlough.