MPs blast Burnham over Manchester lockdown deal failure

Backlash at Andy Burnham’s deal failure: Greater Manchester MPs demand mayor stands down from talks as area approaches Tier 3 lockdown with NO bailout cash- as Robert Jenrick says he will bypass mayor and offer £60m to other local leaders

  • MPs in the region demanded he step back from talks with ministers over money
  • Mr Burnham tweeted in response: ‘You haven’t got this quite right’ 
  • Downing Street has sought to blame Mr Burnham’s intransigence for the hold-up 

Andy Burnham was facing mounting fury from Greater Manchester Tories today as the region faced a looming Tier Three lockdown without a deal in place for a multi-million-pound bailout to help struggling locals.

MPs in the region demanded he step back from talks with ministers over money after Boris Johnson lost patience and ordered 2.8million people  into the Very High shutdown from Friday.

Downing Street has sought to blame Mr Burnham’s intransigence for the hold-up in agreeing a deal- asking for £65million and refusing to accept £60million on offer from the Government.

In a letter to Mr Burnham organised by Heywood and Middleton MP Chris Clarkson they said he should now let them and and council leaders attempt to get a settlement. 

Mr Clarkson, Mark Logan, Christian Wakeford, James Grundy, Jame Daly and Mary Robinson all put their name to the note telling Mr Burnham he had ‘completely failed’. 

It came as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick this morning suggested that the £60million was still available and Mr Burnham had prevented the deal being done days ago.

Meanwhile, South Yorkshire’s Labour mayor Dan Jarvis this morning added pressure to Mr Burnham by revealing he had swiftly agreed a £41million deal to place Sheffield in Tier 3 from Saturday.

In an apparent swipe at his Labour colleague today, Mr Jarvis said: ‘We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS.’ 

MPs in the region demanded Mr Burnham step back from talks with ministers over money after Boris Johnson lost patience and ordered 2.8million people into the Very High shutdown from Friday

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick this morning suggested that the £60million was still available and Mr Burnham had prevented the deal being done days ago

How the war of words between Burnham and No 10 unfolded 

October 14: The three-tier system is introduced in England. Andy Burnham instantly brands it ‘fundamentally flawed’ and threatens legal action if imposed by Government. 

October 15: Mr Burnham accuses the Government of treating the North with ‘contempt’ as a row erupts over proposed coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the area. 

October 16: Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accuses Mr Burnham of trying to ‘hold the Government over a barrel’ by resisting tougher restrictions and urges him to ‘do the right thing by the people of Manchester’.

The Prime Minister urges leaders in Greater Manchester to ‘reconsider and engage constructively’ over Tier 3 restrictions but says he will intervene if an agreement cannot be reached. 

October 17: Mr Burnham said no meetings had taken place since Thursday morning and urged in a joint statement with council leaders that ‘we are ready to meet at any time’.

Downing Street on Saturday indicated a call had been scheduled for the following morning after a message was left with Mr Burnham.

October 18: Mr Burnham accused the Prime Minister of having engaged in an ‘exaggeration’ of the severity of Covid-19 in the region during a Downing Street press conference. 

Senior minister Michael Gove said: ‘Instead of press conferences and posturing, what we need is action to save people’s lives.’

October 19: Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick warned local leaders they had until midday the following day to strike a deal with Government. 

October 20: Figures in London and Manchester continued to talk even after the noon deadline for negotiations had passed. 

Mr Burnham civic leaders were prepared to reduce their bid for financial support from £90million to £65 million – a figure he described as the ‘bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship’. 

At a 5pm press conference no deal had been reached and the PM announced he would be unilaterally imposing Tier 3 on the region.

Mr Clarkson said the Government offered to give Manchester ’92 per cent of what you asked for, with a settlement of an additional £60m funding, you decided the best option was to walk away having secured absolutely nothing.’

Mr Burnham tweeted in response: ‘You haven’t got this quite right Chris.

‘We asked for £90m – which is the cost of an 80 per cent furlough & self-employed scheme.

‘We were offered £60m – 66 per cent of our ask, the same that pub staff in Heywood & Middleton are deemed to be worth.

‘You can vote to change that today. Will you?’

Mr Jenrick dangled a carrot in front of Greater Manchester politicians this morning.

‘The money is still there. It’s got Greater Manchester’s name on it,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘We have had very productive conversations with the local council leaders in recent days. The council leaders can come to me, my door is open.

‘They can come to me today and we can start making the same arrangements as we are now doing intensively with Merseyside, Lancashire and other parts of the country.’

He added that it was ‘a great shame’ that the Government was unable to reach an agreement with leaders in Greater Manchester after having tried ‘extremely hard’.

He told Sky News the clear public advice he received was that Greater Manchester was facing ‘a serious and deteriorating situation’, and that the Government needed to act.

‘We probably in honesty should have acted a few days ago but we hadn’t been able to reach an agreement with the mayor of Greater Manchester,’ he added.

Mr Burnham set fire to the row last night by calling a press conference to accuse Mr Johnson of ‘playing poker with people’s lives’ and ‘walking away’ rather than finding the extra £5million.

When a noon deadline yesterday passed with both sides still refusing to give ground, the PM carried out his threat to unilaterally plunge Greater Manchester into the toughest lockdown.

It came as the South Yorkshire news broke this morning. Ministers hailed ‘very successful’ discussions with local leaders overnight, while talks with West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire are still ongoing.

Sheffield mayor Dan Jarvis said he had secured a £41million deal for contact tracing, enforcement and business support.

‘Following extensive discussions with Ministers, local council leaders and I have agreed with Government that South Yorkshire will move into Tier 3, the ‘very high’ alert level for coronavirus restrictions,’ Mr Jarvis said.

‘The restrictions will come into force from 00:01 on Saturday 24 October and all four local authority areas – Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.’


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