Coronavirus UK LIVE: Boris Johnson 'cannot rule out' circuit break lockdown

16 October 2020, 14:06 | Updated: 16 October 2020, 22:06

PM: I will intervene if agreement with Manchester leaders not reached

By Ewan Somerville

Boris Johnson today said he "cannot rule anything out" on a circuit-break second national lockdown, with "time of the essence" in a bitter row between Westminster and northern leaders.

The Prime Minister led a Downing Street briefing to warn the Covid situation in Manchester is "grave", with the city's mayor still refusing to consent to tough Tier 3 rules. But he added he wants to avoid a second national shutdown "if at all possible".

Mr Johnson spoke as more than half of the UK population - including London - braces for fresh restrictions from midnight.

Pubs and bars will close in Lancashire as it becomes the second area to enter the Tier 3 "very high" category in the PM's three-tier lockdown system. Council leaders say they were "bullied and blackmailed" into the move.

Meanwhile, Manchester leaders are standing firm against Westminster's growing pressure for them to agree to Tier 3 curbs as cases spiral, with mayor Andy Burnham blasting Number 10 for treating northern England as a "sacrificial lamb".

The Government's scientific advisers and figures across the political spectrum are still calling for a "circuit-break" short lockdown, as Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford signalled he would follow Northern Ireland into an imminent shutdown.

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