DON’T PLAY POL­I­TICS

Hancock slams North­ern re­volt against Tier 3 rules

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Sam Lis­ter Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

LEAD­ERS in the North are be­ing urged to “set aside party pol­i­tics” af­ter they re­jected the Gov­ern­ment’s new lock­down mea­sures.

Greater Manch­ester and Lan­cashire had been set to join Liver­pool yes­ter­day in Tier 3 – the level with the strictest re­stric­tions.

But Labour’s Andy Burn­ham, who is Greater Manch­ester’s mayor, is re­sist­ing the call from Prime Min­is­ter Boris Johnson and his Cab­i­net – and ac­cused min­is­ters of sac­ri­fic­ing the North to save the South.

Af­ter heated meet­ings, Mr Burn­ham called a press con­fer­ence and said: “We are be­ing set up as the ca­naries in the coal mine for an ex­per­i­men­tal re­gional lock­down strat­egy as an at­tempt to pre­vent the ex­pense of what is truly needed.”

Re­stric­tions

The Gov­ern­ment can force through changes with­out lo­cal agree­ment, but Mr Burn­ham warned he would launch le­gal ac­tion if that hap­pened.

He wants any new re­stric­tions to be backed by an ex­ten­sive eco­nomic pack­age, in­clud­ing 80 per cent pay for fur­loughed work­ers.

Chan­cel­lor Rishi Su­nak has al­ready an­nounced it will be two- thirds of pay.

Mean­while Health Sec­re­tary Matt Hancock said yes­ter­day that the North- west was in a “se­vere” sit­u­a­tion with Covid- 19 cases rising “ex­po­nen­tially”.

He told MPs: “I call upon lo­cal lead­ers to set aside party pol­i­tics and to work with us to put in place the mea­sures that are needed so that we can deal with this virus and sup­port peo­ple through it. This is a time for peo­ple to come to­gether so that we can con­trol this virus.”

Half of Eng­land’s pop­u­la­tion – around 28 mil­lion peo­ple – will be un­der stricter lock­down mea­sures from mid­night tonight. Lon­don will move into Tier 2, along with Es­sex, Elm­bridge, Bar­row- in­Fur­ness, York, north- east Der­byshire, Ere­wash and Ch­ester­field.

Some other re­gions, in­clud­ing Leeds and Newcastle, are al­ready in Tier 2, which in­cludes a 10pm pub cur­few. Mr Hancock ad­mit­ted: “Things will get worse be­fore they get bet­ter but I know there are brighter skies and calmer seas ahead.

“When a virus is mov­ing fast, we can­not stay still. If we act col­lec­tively, we know we can con­trol the virus be­cause we have done it be­fore.

“I be­lieve in the peo­ple of this coun­try and I be­lieve, in fact I know, that the peo­ple of this coun­try want to con­trol the virus to pro­tect their loved ones, their lives and their liveli­hoods.

“And I be­lieve from the bot­tom of my heart that act­ing to­gether we can.

He also said dis­cus­sions with the North- west were “on­go­ing”.

Later, a fu­ri­ous Mr Burn­ham said that Tier 3 mea­sures will have a dev­as­tat­ing eco­nomic im­pact.

He in­sisted that lead­ers in the re­gion were “unan­i­mously op­posed” to the “flawed and un­fair” changes, which in­clude pub closures, a ban on house­holds mix­ing in­doors and travel curbs.

He added: “Our con­clu­sion from the No10 meet­ing this morn­ing – they are will­ing to try and sac­ri­fice jobs and businesses here to try and save them else­where.”

He then claimed that

deputy chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Jonathan Van- Tam sug­gested a na­tional lock­down was the “only cer­tain thing to work”.

Mr Burn­ham said: “They are ask­ing us to gam­ble our residents’ jobs, homes and businesses and a large chunk of our econ­omy on a strat­egy that their own ex­perts tell them might not work. We would never sign up for that.

“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 illthought- through Down­ing Street pol­icy which doesn’t make sense in the real world.

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.”

Mean­while se­nior Tory Sir Gra­ham Brady, who is MP for Al­trin­cham and Sale West, claimed the “case has not been made” for a tougher lock­down in the re­gion.

He said there was a dan­ger the pub­lic would “lose pa­tience very quickly” if mea­sures were im­posed with­out agree­ment. And it would be “very fool­ish” for the Gov­ern­ment to press ahead.

Clash... Mr Johnson with Mr Su­nak and, in­set, Andy Burn­ham yes­ter­day

‘ Calmer seas ahead’... Health Sec­re­tary Matt Hancock

Pic­tures: SI­MON WALKER/ HM TREA­SURY, NORTH NEWS & JES­SICA TAY­LOR/ HOC

Thrown out... Newcastle pub- go­ers at 10pm cur­few

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