UK Secretary of Housing Robert Jenrick has said that if the agreement between the British government and the Greater Manchester local leaders, including Mayor Andy Burnham, is not inked by 12 p.m. It would then be up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday to decide whether to impose a Tier Three lockdown on the region.
"I wrote to the Mayor of Greater Manchester and to local leaders in the city area this evening to say that if we are unable to reach an agreement by noon tomorrow, I will have to advise the Prime Minister with deep regret that we are unable to reach an agreement at this time," Jenrick said on Monday evening after another snag was struck by the negotiations with local leaders.
Asked if Johnson would single-handedly enforce the lockdown if the last-minute attempt to flesh out an agreement falls through, Jenrick said it would be "a matter for the prime minister to decide."
While London continues to insist that the financial assistance is provided to Greater Manchester's virus-stricken area is "proportionate" to the support allocated to other regions, such as Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region, local leaders accuse the British government of retracing their promise of more relief.
In a joint statement with Richard Leese, head of the Manchester City Council, the mayor said that "previous discussions had encouraged the city administration," which proposed the establishment of a "Hardship Fund" on top of furlough payments and unemployment assistance.
"When this idea was taken off the table by the Secretary of State, it was both surprising and disappointing," they said.
Burnham and Leese accused the government of trying to spin on hospital data in order to stoke fears about the severity of the outbreak, in addition to the claims that the Johnson cabinet walked out on its earlier promise.
"We are disappointed that with selective statistics, the Government has today sought to raise public concern about the NHS in Greater Manchester," the leaders said. "They argued that the ICU occupancy rate of the area was" not abnormal for this time of the year "and was" comparable to the October 2019 occupancy rate.
We believe it is vital that clear, accurate information about the state of the NHS in Greater Manchester is provided to our residents and that public fears are not raised unnecessarily.
When lashing out at the government for being "contemptuous of their spin, threats & demands," Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, did not mince words. He also charged that the government "has not set out any details of what their" offer "is."
"Since Johnson introduced his three-tier Covid alert system on October 12, Manchester's local leaders have vehemently opposed the imposition of a stage three lockdown on the northern city, which means a" very high alert, "describing the plan as" defective "and" unfair.