MPs, mayors and councillors across England’s most covid-afflicted regions are opposing government plans for tougher restrictions, unless more financial support is provided. London is urging local leaders to ‘do the right thing’.
On Friday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC that London has the ultimate decision as to whether more areas of England would be subjected to further covid restrictions.
Raab took particular issue with rebellious Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, who’d previously claimed that the government’s plan to move Manchester into a tier-three lockdown was “flawed” and “unfair.”
Ultimately we need to take action; we can’t have a situation as we have seen in Manchester, where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the government over a barrel over money and politics.
The foreign secretary urged the mayor of the UK’s ‘second city’ “to do the right thing by the people of Manchester” and to “recognize that the financial package is generous.”
The UK government is coming under increasing pressure from leaders in the Labour heartland of England’s north. They want improved financial packages and a greater say in the content of new lockdown measures.
Speaking before the imposition of a tier-three lockdown on Lancashire on Friday, mayor of Burnley Wajid Khan claimed that the government has not engaged fairly with local leaders, describing London’s approach as “our way or the highway”.
How do local leaders rate restriction negotiations with the Government?
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) October 16, 2020
Infection rates in the Lancashire town of Burnley were as high as 605 cases per 100,000 people in the last recorded week, that’s six times higher than the infection rate in London. The figures highlight the difference between the north and south as the Covid second wave surges in densely populated, former industrial heartland.
Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his three-tier lockdown system on Monday, only Liverpool has been hit with the ‘very high alert’, tier-three lockdown measures. However, it was announced on Friday morning that neighboring Lancashire had accepted the government’s financial package and would join Liverpool in the ‘very high alert’ category. The new measures will see pubs and bars close, while the mixing of households is forbidden indoors and at outdoor hospitality venues.
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On Thursday the UK registered a further 18,980 new Covid cases and 138 deaths. There has now been 43,293 fatalities and 673,622 recorded infections there since the coronavirus pandemic began.
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