No10 'can force Manchester into Tier 3 restrictions, Raab warns

16 October 2020, 08:25 | Updated: 16 October 2020, 09:02

Manchester's local governments have refused to put them into Tier 3 restrictions
Manchester's local governments have refused to put them into Tier 3 restrictions. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Manchester could be forced into Tier 3 restrictions as the regions fight back over the "flawed and unfair" lockdown rules.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hinted Number 10 could drag the region into Tier 3, telling Sky News "in last resort the government has the power to proceed".

He added that "we'd much rather work with the local leaders if possible."

The Government has faced a rebellion from the regional governments in Manchester, who are refusing to go into the highest level of restrictions despite having some of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the country.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said yesterday he and other local leaders are "unanimously opposed" to the restrictions and accused the government of treating the people of Manchester as "canaries in the coal mine" for its "experimental regional lockdown strategy.

Clearly outraged by No 10's insistence to place the region into Tier 3 of the Covid Alert Levels, the mayor also accused ministers of using Manchester as a "sacrificial lamb" for the rest of the UK.

The government has repeatedly insisted that a second nationwide lockdown would be disastrous for UK businesses and the economy. Therefore, Mr Burnham used this logic against ministers, saying a stricter lockdown would likewise be perilous for Manchester's businesses.

Read more: London to enter Tier 2 of Covid restrictions from midnight on Friday

Explained: When does London's tier two lockdown start? What are the restrictions?

Dominic Raab has hinted that Manchester could be forcibly put into Tier 3 restrictions
Dominic Raab has hinted that Manchester could be forcibly put into Tier 3 restrictions. Picture: PA

He said: "It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support for the people and businesses affected."

Even Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that shutdowns cause "economic pain".

But speaking during the Commons on Thursday, he appeared to take a swipe at the mayor by thanking the leaders of Manchester's old rival Liverpool for their "public service and cross-party teamwork" in agreeing to adhere to the strictest lockdown measures.

He added that "discussions are ongoing" with local leaders on moving areas classed as high to very high.

More to follow...

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