Boris Johnson has been warned he may cause a fracturing of national unity if he fails to listen to regional concerns about the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham spoke out as a poll reported public support for the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis had slipped.
Meanwhile, only 39% of Britons approve of the Government’s response – down from 48% a week ago – according to an Opinium survey of 2,005 adults on Wednesday and Thursday.
Those saying they disapproved rose from 36% to 42%.
Burnham said Johnson did not inform civic leaders of his easing of restrictions in advance and said the dropping of the Stay at Home message felt “premature”.
While cases of coronavirus have been easing in the South East, Burnham believes the loosening of restrictions came too quickly for the North.
“On the eve of a new working week, the PM was on TV ‘actively encouraging’ a return to work. Even though that would clearly put more cars on roads and people on trams, no-one in Government thought it important to tell the cities that would have to cope with that,” Mr Burnham wrote in The Observer.
“The surprisingly permissive package might well be right for the South East, given the fall in cases there. But my gut feeling told me it was too soon for the North.
“Certainly, the abrupt dropping of the clear Stay at Home message felt premature.
“If the Government carries on in the same vein, expect to see an even greater fracturing of national unity. Different places will adopt their own messaging and policies.”
This comes as the Government announced a £93 million investment to bring forward the opening of a new vaccine-manufacturing centre ready to begin production if a coronavirus vaccine is found.
The not-for-profit facility – located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxford – will open 12 months earlier than planned in summer 2021, and will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
Elsewhere, education secretary Gavin Williamson has appealed to teaching unions to work with the government to find “practical solutions” to enable schools in England to begin re-opening.
His plea came amid fears over plans to start the phased re-opening of primary schools from next month, as part of the easing of the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
Talks on 15 May between union representatives and government scientific advisers, intended to provide assurance about the government’s proposals to enable children to return safely, ended with union leaders saying it had raised more questions than answers.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?