Manchester Mayor insists he won’t ‘break law’ after Govt sets midday deadline

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said he will not "break the law" if forced into a Tier 3 lockdown.

Mr Burnham branded the Government's midday deadline to agree terms as "provocative" after ten days of failed negotiations.

The mayor was responding to an announcement on Monday night that Boris Johnson will force Greater Manchester into a Tier 3 lockdown despite its leaders rejecting proposals.

But Burnham insists he will not "break the law" if forced by the Government, in a clear sign he will not resist Tier 3 if forced.

He told SkyNews: "Of course we wouldn't break the law. We've never said that we would.

We would obviously have to accept that decision, in the end it's the Government's prerogative. But I would say to them at this point are they sure that that is a wise thing to do?"

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Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick gave the ultimatum in response to the region's leaders putting their foot down on Tier 3 plans until the government offers more financial support.

Andy Burnham wants more cash for furloughed workers before agreeing to the tougher lockdown measures which would close pubs and bars that do not serve food.

Greater Manchester's leaders have also argued that if £14million was spent on shielding the most vulnerable, there would be no need for a Tier 3 lockdown.

But Downing Street warned that without the new restrictions set to be forced through, hospitals in the region will not be able to cope with an influx of Covid-19 patients expected in less than a month.

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Mr Jenrick told Manchester on Monday night that time is up on negotiations.

He said: “The deteriorating public health situation in Greater Manchester means that we need to take action urgently.”

He added: “There are now more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester Hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined.

“But, unfortunately, despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control.

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“I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday tomorrow then I must advise the Prime Minister that despite our best endeavours we’ve been unable to reach agreement.

“It’s not too late for local leaders to work with us to take action for the sake of the people of Greater Manchester.”

Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese said that £14million spent on protecting the most vulnerable from infection would be enough to scrap plans for a Tier 3 lockdown.

Sir Leese added that £14million would be less than a fifth of the financial cost caused by business closures if the harshest restrictions were enforced, the Telegraph reports.

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Top Tories including Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, the powerful group of Conservative backbenchers, support the council leader's suggestion.

Sir Graham, MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: "The fundamental point about Tier 3 is the proposals don't appear to have any evidential basis.

“There is no reason to think that closing some pubs and bars would have a significant impact on the spread on the virus."

But Mr Jenrick tore into the stubborn Manchester bosses yesterday for refusing to follow the example of Lancashire and Liverpool in signing up to the tough lockdown.

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