Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Liverpool city region, which is already subject to the tier 3 strictest restrictions, says he is exploring how the extra funding given to the area to compensate for the tighter rules can be used to help people not supported by the national government schemes. Taxi drivers and the self-employed could benefit in particular, he says.
In the Commons yesterday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said further talks were planned this week with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the north-east and Teesside about those areas entering the strictest tier 3 Covid restrictions.
Last night Shane Moore, the independent leader of Hartlepool borough council, said that his response to any proposal of this kind would be “sod off”.
Moore adopted much the same approach earlier this month, when the current restrictions were imposed on his town. The government just ignored his opposition.
Here are some other lines from Andy Burnham’s interviews this morning. (See 9.01am.)
- Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said current government plans could involve “levelling down” not “levelling up”, which is Boris Johnson’s stated goal. Burnham explained:
We’re trying to respond to a pandemic on the cheap, that’s how it feels.
It’s particularly relevant, isn’t it, when you then come to a regional lockdown, because by definition these are going to be divisive, and if you don’t fully fund them you are going to widen the divides in society.
The danger for me of underfunded regional lockdown is that it becomes an act of levelling down from a government which said it would do the opposite.
- He said for tier 3 restrictions to work, there would have to be funding to allow more businesses to close than under the tier 3 baseline rules envisaged by the government. He explained:
All of the experts – chief medical officer, chief scientific adviser, the deputy chief medical officer – every single one of them has said to us they are not certain tier 3 will work.
The only way it’s got a chance of working is if you fully fund it so that lots of things can close so that they can have the maximum impact.
The problem with the government strategy is it isn’t doing that, it’s trying to penny pinch on tier 3.
That’s the problem, I don’t think its own strategy will work. It’s not backing itself to make its strategy work.
- He rejected claims that he was engaged in political posturing, saying he had the support of Conservatives. He said:
I have the support of Conservative MPs here for what I am saying – it is not posturing.
- He said that, if the government imposed tier 3 unilaterally on Greater Manchester, he would accept that and not encourage law-breaking. He said:
Of course we wouldn’t break the law. We’ve never said that we would.
We would obviously have to accept that decision, in the end it’s the government’s prerogative.
Good morning. There are three hours to go until we hit the deadline set by the government for the end of talks with Greater Manchester leaders on a deal about moving the region into the very high alert level tier 3, which would mean it would be subject to the strictest Covid regulations. If there is no deal, the government is threatening to impose those rules unilaterally.
Here is an extract from the statement issued by Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, last night.
There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than in the whole of the south-west and south-east combined. But, unfortunately, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control. I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday tomorrow then I must advise the prime minister that despite our best endeavours we’ve been unable to reach agreement. It’s not too late for local leaders to work with us to take action for the sake of the people of Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has been giving interviews this morning. My colleagues Helen Pidd and Josh Halliday sum up the situation in their story this morning.
Burnham is speaking to Greater Manchester council leaders this morning and he said he would recommend that they send a counter-offer to the government. He said:
We’ve never been given a figure for that additional support. So what I will be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders, when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the government with what we think a fair figure is, given we have been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here.
The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people who we think are going to need to be supported under a tier 3 lockdown.
Some sort of resolution seems likely today, and we may well hear about it from Boris Johnson, who is rumoured to be planning an afternoon press conference.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: The ONS publishes its weekly death figures for England and Wales.
9.30am: The Commons health committee takes evidence from health professionals on staff burnout in the NHS.
11.30am: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, takes questions in the Commons.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is due to hold its regular coronavirus briefing.
1.30pm: Mark Drakeford takes first minister’s questions in the Senedd (Welsh assembly).
Afternoon: Boris Johnson may hold a press conference. No 10 has not confirmed this, but it posted this on Twitter this morning – which is normally a sign a press conference is coming.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, like Brexit, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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