Burnham Injustice

Evening Blend By Isabel Hardman from the Spectator.  

Boris Johnson announced he was imposing Tier 3 restrictions on Greater Manchester after talks with local political leaders broke down.
The analysis A Burnham injustice.

This evening Boris Johnson confirmed that Greater Manchester will go into Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions and receive £22 million of government support after talks with local political leaders over the measures broke down.

Today’s deadline for an agreement of noon came and went and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced he had advised the Prime Minister that the talks had concluded without agreement. No. 10 then briefed that there would be a press conference at 5 p.m. where Johnson would announce the decision he had taken.  

As John Connolly reports on Coffee House, shortly before the Downing Street event, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham held his own press conference in which he launched an impassioned attack on the government.

He accused ministers of ‘grinding communities down through punishing negotiations’ and promised to fight for those impacted by the restrictions. And he revealed that the region had been pushing for £90 million of government support until the end of the year so that local government could top up the national furlough scheme to 80 per cent of people’s wages.

Any lower than £65 million, he said, would harm those on the lowest incomes.   This evening, Johnson announced a package of £22 million, but in talks ministers had offered £60 million, meaning the negations ran aground over a mere £5 million difference.

The reason ministers have held out for so long on this is that they fear other regions would see a generous package for Greater Manchester as an invitation to ask for more money themselves when they are put into Tier 3.

The problem, though, is that Burnham has ignited a touch paper of areas outside the south of England feeling as though they are being ignored. He has vowed to carry on fighting for those affected in his area, but it is highly likely that in the coming weeks the battle will get noisier as more voices join it.  

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