Lancashire plunged into Tier 3 as Manchester faces lockdown D-Day in battle of the North
LANCASHIRE is to be plunged into Tier 3 lockdown with pubs and bars closing as Downing Street's battle with the north erupted into open warfare.
It comes as the government this morning warned Manchester will be FORCED into the strictest shutdown if local leaders keep rejecting their plans.
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A spokesperson for Lancashire confirmed the deal this morning, meaning 1.5 million people in will be slapped with further curbs.
It is understood Lancashire County Council have managed to wangle a better financial deal with the Government.
The Government is understood to be giving the region an extra financial package worth tens of millions of pounds as part of the deal to accept Tier 3 restrictions.
The agreement could cause further strife for Downing Street, as Liverpool council leaders, who accepted Tier 3 restrictions last weeks, eyes off the extra money being given to Lancashire.
Dominic Raab said this morning it would be a "last resort" to force Manchester into further lockdown without their support, but warned action was needed to tackle the Covid infection rate.
In a blistering attack on Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Mr Raab accused him of trying to hold the Government "over a barrel" and said they'll keep powers to push Northern hotspots into lockdown "in reserve".
It comes after a furious Mr Burnham rejected the Tier 3 plans yesterday, saying they were being used as "canaries in the coal mine" and jobs in the North were being "sacrificed to save them elsewhere".
Boris Johnson is also poised to announce a Tier 3 lockdown for Lancashire and the North East today, as the Foreign Secretary told Mr Burnham the Government wouldn't let him "pull up the drawbridge".
Mr Raab told the BBC this morning: "We'll hold in reserve the ability to (impose measures on Manchester).
"We've strived with every sinew to work with local authorities. We'd like to get there with Andy Burnham and with Manchester, and in most places talks are ongoing."
Mr Burnham quickly hit back at Mr Raab, saying on Twitter: "It’s not about what we want for ourselves, @DominicRaab.
"It’s about what we want for low-paid and self-employed people everywhere: fairness."
Talks with the Northern leaders collapsed yesterday after health minister Helen Whately failed to bring local MPs on board with new restrictions.
But they will continue today with the PM's top aide Sir Eddie Lister and if no agreement is reached, the PM will lay out restrictions as early as this afternoon.
Mr Raab urged the mayor to put politics aside, saying: "Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and over politics.
"When actually we need to take action, the cases are 470 cases per 100,000 so its very serious.
"There have been all sorts of discussions with Manchester."
Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and over politics.
The Foreign Secretary warned the Government was not going to respond to ultimatums issued by the Mayor.
"If Andy Burnham is just pulling up the drawbridge and saying we're not going to proceed unless more money is coming in.
"We can't have a situation where Andy Burnham is saying unless you give us what you want, we're not going to follow the new rules."
New measures imposed on Manchester and Lancashire would see pubs close and prevent households from mixing even in gardens.
Burnely Mayor Wajid Khan admitted they were "heading for Tier 3" despite continuing to haggle with No10 over financial support.
He said: "I think it's safe to say we will be moving into Tier 3 from all my understanding from my discussions with leaders and people involved there.
"It's just how much support the government can look at."
Another 11 .5million Brits will be under draconian controls as London, much of Essex and large parts of the North are put into Tier Two restrictions.
The latest measures in England, which will see half of the country in lockdown, sparked fury among Tory MPs who accused the PM of smuggling in a national lockdown by the back door.
They believe Mr Johnson has sacrificed businesses in the capital to kill off claims he was punishing the North with a stricter lockdown.
But last night No 10 angrily rejected the claim, warning the virus numbers are going the wrong way in the capital.
'WE MUST ACT'
In the North, Tories dramatically united with Labour in Manchester and Lancashire to defy a No 10 bid to slap them with even tougher restrictions.
Ministers believe Mr Johnson’s expected announcement today would isolate Greater Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham – who refused to accept the high-risk area restrictions until he receives a bailout.
York, Chesterfield, Elmbridge in Surrey, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire and Erewash in Derbyshire, will also all go into Tier Two from 12.01am tomorrow.
People will be banned from meeting indoors anyone with whom they do not live.
One ICU doctor in Manchester said leaders have to "shut up" and "shut down now" to stop the city's hospitals reaching breaking point as people keep dying from coronavirus.
He told Sky News: "Why don't these politicians get it? 24 hours on and we're still in the same position. Hospitals are filling up.
"Can't they just accept the deal and sort the money out later? People are dying. These local leaders need to shut up and shut down, now!"
It comes after the Health Secretary told leaders to put "party politics aside" and agree extra measures to control the virus.
He said: "We must act. The situation in the North West of England is severe.
"The number of cases is rising exponentially. The number of people in hospital with Covid has doubled in just the last 12 days."
Mr Hancock urged local leaders to "set aside this party politics" and "work with us to put in place the measures that are needed in Greater Manchester, across the north west, so that we can deal with this virus and support people through it".
He told ITV News: "This is a time for people to come together so that we can control this virus."
Mr Burnham launched a blistering attack on Downing Street's plans while flanked by fellow leaders in the city on Thursday.
MPs, leaders and No10's talks broke down amid fire and fury as they failed to thrash out a financial deal for the region.
Mr Burnham said he wanted an 80 per cent furlough scheme for all affected workers, 80 per cent income support for the self-employed and a proper compensation scheme for businesses in the event of a Tier 3 lockdown.
It comes as:
- Eight more areas were moved into Tier two lockdowns, including Greater London
- 'Overstretched' cops say they won't enforce Wales' England travel ban
- Scotland could join Wales in banned travellers from UK Covid hotspots
- Half of brits are now living in Tier 2 or 3
- No action will be taken against travelling SNP MP Margaret Ferrier
The furious mayor said: "The only certain thing to work is a national lockdown.
"The Government told us this morning it is unwilling to do that due to the damage it will do to the national economy and yet… they are willing to sacrifice jobs and businesses here to try and save them elsewhere."
Mr Burnham ended his fiery statement by adamantly saying: "It won't work.
"It will level down the regions and make the recovery much harder. This is an important moment, Greater Manchester will stand firm.
"We are fighting back for fairness and for the health of our people in the broadest sense."
Around 1.5 million people living in the Liverpool City region are already in Tier 3.
And more than 3.5million people would be affected if Greater Manchester and Lancashire were moved to the "very high" risk Tier 3.
The Government ultimately has the power to make the decision regardless, but had wanted to "take regional leaders" with them when imposing Tier 2 and 3 measures.
After making his furious position clear, Mr Burnham said: "[It] is a decision for the Government. The ball is in their court, they will have to decide."
Amid tense discussions with ministers Lucy Powell, Labour MP for Manchester Central, said earlier there was "unanimous fury" over "the process, the evidence base and the economic support" offered.
She argued Manchester has "lived in tier two for weeks now and it has not worked".
'WE DO NOT ACCEPT'
Tory ministers also slammed the tough measures, with William Wragg, for Hazel Grove in south Manchester, saying: "The meeting we had earlier today was entirely pointless and we may as well have talked to a wall quite frankly.
“The closure of hospitality will drive people into private dwellings where they will mix, we do not thank goodness live in a police state for that is the only way to police it.
"Can they please listen to common sense and think again?”
Some Lancashire Labour MPs claimed yesterday the region will remain in Tier 2, but no official decision has yet been made.
They fear it would be a "hammer blow" to the economy to impose more rules on their residents, as they implore Downing Street to reconsider.
Latest figures from Monday show there are 449.3 Covid cases per 100,000 in Greater Manchester and 423.4 cases per 100,000 in West Lancashire.
Mr Johnson rejected the idea of a 'circuit breaker' lockdown on Monday but said "we must act now" to stop infection levels in local areas continuing to spiral out of control.
The crucial test for putting an area into Tier 3 lockdowns is whether local NHS services will be quickly become overwhelmed to the point where they are unable to carry out other essential health checks and procedures.
We’ll win but not this way
By Chris Green, MP for Bolton West
LOCKDOWNS as a cure for coronavirus are worse than the disease.
I have seen the misery they cause to people’s mental and physical
wellbeing plus livelihoods and businesses.
That is why, with sadness, I’ve resigned from the Government.
I’ve watched my constituents suffer as Bolton was placed under some of the toughest local restrictions — with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve takeaways only.
The reduction in footfall on the high street has driven businesses under while others are on the brink of collapse.
Yet all through these local restrictions, transmission rates went up and up and up.
We will get through this crisis — but repeated lockdowns are not the solution.
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