Burnham blames Sunak in Manchester lockdown row as he calls for Labour party support

Support us and go ad-free

Mayor Andy Burnham has blamed chancellor Rishi Sunak for being “the problem” in the row over a lockdown for Greater Manchester. It comes alongside confusion over talks with Downing Street.

The feud between No 10 and the Labour mayor continued on 17 October. Downing Street said fresh talks had been set up for the weekend, only for Burnham’s office to deny this. Talks between him and Downing Street are reportedly now set to resume later on Sunday 18 October.

Blame Sunak

Burnham has called for a return to the generosity of the original furlough scheme that saw the Treasury pay 80% of workers’ wages. But Sunak has only offered a 66% subsidy for those whose firms are shut by Tier 3 measures.

The Greater Manchester mayor told the New Statesman on 16 October:

I think the problem now is, to a large degree, the Chancellor. I think he’s made wrong judgements throughout this.

He criticised the Eat Out to Help Out meal subsidy scheme as a “poor judgment” and added:

The cost of that should have been paying for the furlough now.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

He insisted that the failure ultimately lies with Boris Johnson, arguing that the prime minister:

shouldn’t be allowing the Treasury to run the policy.

Gove

Burnham and Conservative politicians in Greater Manchester oppose Tier 3 measures. And the mayor is calling for greater financial support for workers and businesses.

The Labour mayor accused Johnson of having exaggerated the severity of the situation in the region. He has called for parliament to intervene to give Tier 3 areas sufficient financial support.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, on Sunday 18 October, accused Burnham of having engaged in political “posturing”. Gove called for Burnham to accept the measures “to save people’s lives”.

Gove told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday:

I want to reach an agreement with the political leadership in Greater Manchester.

I want them to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in and I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.

Instead of press conferences and posturing what we need is action to save people’s lives.

Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

“Serious situation”

Burnham accused Johnson of exaggerating the severity of the coronavirus situation in the region during a Downing Street press conference on 16 October. The mayor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:

It’s a serious situation but I don’t think it was the situation that was described by the Prime Minister on Friday evening.

I think it was an exaggeration of the position that we’re in.

Of course it’s a matter of concern, and we watch the figures very closely indeed, but the figures have been falling in Manchester itself in the last few days, across Greater Manchester up slightly but certainly not doubling every nine days.

Despite the clash, Burnham said he would speak to Johnson’s chief strategic adviser Edward Lister later on 18 October. Downing Street confirmed this after the two sides struggled to arrange talks the day before.

Shoppers in Manchester on Saturday afternoon
Shoppers in Manchester on Saturday afternoon (Danny Lawson/PA)

Opposition

Burnham reiterated his call for a return to the original furlough scheme that covered 80% of workers’ wages if they couldn’t do their jobs. And he told MPs it was “everywhere’s concern”. All areas could end up in Tier 3 measures, with the lower support package of a 66% subsidy for those whose firms are forced to shut.

Burnham told Marr:

That’s why I’ll be writing to the Labour Party leaders in Westminster to ask them to intervene, for Parliament to intervene, here.

What we need here is a fair financial framework if the Government are going to insist on Tier 3 – at the moment, they’re doing side deals with individual councils, that isn’t good enough for me.

Support us and go ad-free

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?

The Canary Support us