‘I know the frustration!’ Sturgeon takes thinly veiled swipe at Boris as the North revolts

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Boris Johnson is facing significant resistance from leaders in the north of England against proposals to introduce tighter coronavirus measures. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has been particularly vocal, recently accusing the UK Government of treating the North like an experiment for its regional lockdown strategy. STV Political Correspondent Ewan Petrie questioned Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on whether she supported the opposition.

The SNP leader said: “I’m not going to comment on discussions in the north of England.

“Most people would understand that I have enormous sympathy with local leaders and the mayors in the north of England.

“I could see and feel the frustration of Andy Burnham when he spoke yesterday.

“He’s got a job to do and he is clearly doing that job: to stand up for the people he represents.”

She continued: “I know how frustrating it can be at times to deal with the Whitehall operation.

“So I’ve got sympathy there but I’d simply repeat the point I’ve made before.

“This virus is not standing back, pausing, giving politicians time to come to an agreement.

“Every day that there is a lack of agreement is a day this virus gets to spread unhindered.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “I took part in a COBRA meeting on Monday and one of the local leaders for Liverpool was there and made a point I supported.

“If we are asking businesses and individuals to live under these restrictions, we have to be prepared as governments to financially compensate them.

“The level of support in the job scheme that will replace furlough at the end of November is not sufficient, and I would make an appeal to the Chancellor to take the wage subsidy back up to the level it was at the start of the pandemic.”

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Mr Burnham has been campaigning against placing Greater Manchester in tier three under the new system, which would see hospitality closures.

He claims the Government’s own top scientific advisers have told him such a strategy has no guarantee of success and will result in job losses and hardship.

The mayor 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.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hit back at Mr Burnham, demanding that he work with the Government instead of “pulling up the drawbridge”.

The minister said the quicker issues over the new tier system are resolved in Greater Manchester, “the better for the country as a whole”.

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