MANCHESTER Mayor Andy Burnham today slapped down Boris Johnson's offer of tens of millions of pounds of extra cash for the region – saying it wasn't about "the size of the cheque".
The Northern city now looks to be forced into a Tier three lockdown without his consent as it gets close to running out of emergency hospital beds.
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The Manchester Mayor has been locked in a furious row for days over extra support for the area – as the Government try to get him to agree to further restrictive measures.
Tier three – where Lancashire and the Liverpool city region are in now – have forced bars to close which don't serve food, and gyms and other indoor areas in some places too.
Mr Burnham told Sky News this morning that "nothing has changed" and he still has yet to see a financial package he was happy with.
He wants the Government to promised 80 per cent pay for staff whose firms are forced to shut – more than the two thirds the Chancellor has stumped up so far.
Mr Burnham said today: "It's not about the size of the cheque, it's about protecting low-paid workers, people who are self-employed and supporting businesses."
Several of Greater Manchester's 12 hospitals are already full with wards in Salford, Stockport and Bolton at maximum capacity, a leaked NHS document has revealed.
Figures showed that by Friday 211 of the 257 critical care beds in Greater Manchester were being used for Covid patients or those critically ill from another illness.
This equates to 82 per cent of the region’s total supply of hospital beds.
A senior doctor in Manchester told the newspaper: "I'm dreading the coming months… even without Covid the wards get full to bursting."
Ministers believe the Mayor will come under pressure to accept the restrictions if the situation in the area worsens.
It came as:
- Ministers today hinted that if no agreement was reached today they would be forced to take action without their support.
- By 1 November it's expected there will be more Covid patients in ICU in Greater Manchester than during the previous peak
- A Whitehall insider told The Sun that ministers “cannot wait too much longer” before they must act
- Wales is expected to go into a two-week circuit breaker lockdown as early as Friday to curb infections
- Labour’s Rachel Reeves told the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday her party backs repeated national lockdowns if needed
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested the region would be forced into Tier 3 tomorrow if council leaders do not accept a £100m package.
He said: "I do think it's now clear that having discussed this for well over a week this does now need to be brought to a conclusion.
"I'm hopeful either today or tomorrow we will reach a conclusion one way or the other."
Asked whether Tier 3 would imposed without Greater Manchester's consent after that, he replied: "You can see that's not been our intention, we've worked over the weekend talking to local leaders… but of course the Government has overall responsibility for public health we can't just sit aside and allow the cases to rise.
"So if we're not able to reach that agreement we'll have to consider the options available to us."
Tory MPs in the North have joined forces with Labour’s Greater Manchester Mayor Mr Burnham to oppose harsher measures.
Conservative grandee Sir Graham Brady, the MP for Altrincham and Sale West, yesterday warned the PM “Manchester is united” against the move.
Mr Burnham and all 10 Greater Manchester council leaders said they were not “convinced closing hospitality venues is the only way to protect hospitals”.
Business Sec Alok Sharma said today he hopes "the Manchester Mayor will play his part".
He told LBC: "If the current rate of infections in Manchester continue, you will have more people with Covid in intensive care in Manchester than in the last peak.
"I am sure Andy Burnham doesn't want that.
"I hope over the coming day or so we will see resolution in Manchester.
"Andy Burnham needs to make a decision now.
"We want this thing done, now."
He was asked if the Manchester Mayor was "putting lives at risk".
He replied: "There is no doubt the longer this goes on the greater the risk to the people of Manchester."
Yesterday, senior Cabinet Minister Michael Gove slammed the Labour mayor for refusing to sign up for a tougher lockdown and accused him of “posturing” while Brits are dying.
Mr Gove told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “I want them to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in.
“And I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.”
Labour politicians, including Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Sir Keir Starmer, are demanding England is put under tight lockdown rules for two weeks – but the Government say it wouldn't be fair to areas with low rates infection.
Wales is set to decide on whether to have one later today.
Northern Ireland and Scotland are both in the middle of circuit breaker lockdowns to try and get on top of new coronavirus infections after the Government's Sage committee of experts threw their support behind short national shutdowns.
Scots are unable to drink alcohol in pubs and restaurants, which all have to close at 6pm daily.
But they haven't been given the severe lockdown measures Mr Drakeford is expected to impose today.
People in Northern Ireland are also living under strict rules, with pubs, schools and restaurants forced to close for four weeks.
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