Dominic Raab has weighed in as the tier row between Greater Manchester and the government continues – accusing the region of “pulling up the drawbridge”.
Local leaders remain resolute in their unanimous opposition to Greater Manchester’s proposed shift upwards in the government’s flagship tier system – demanding a superior financial package to the one that’s on the table.
But they also know it could ultimately be out of their hands.
Andy Burnham has made no bones about the fact that it’s the government who have the final say on whether Greater Manchester is bumped up to Tier 3 in the coming days.
Asked by the press whether it was inevitable that the region would end up in the ‘very high’ risk category, the Mayor pulled no punches.
“That’s a decision for the government,” he admitted.
Now, Dominic Raab has echoed those comments.
“Obviously, in the last resort the government has the powers to proceed in any event,” the First Secretary of State told Sky News.
“But we would much rather work with the local leaders if at all possible.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Raab accused Burnham of putting the government in a difficult position.
“We can’t have a situation as we have seen in Manchester where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the government over a barrel over money and politics when actually we need to take action,” he stated.
“The cases there are 470 per 100,000 so it is very serious, and we must take action in the interest of the people of Manchester and the wider area, and if we take those targeted actions in those areas most affected… we get through this and we avoid the national level lockdown.”
Raab then urged the Mayor “do the right thing by the people of Manchester”, reminding Burnham that the door was “always open”.
“We will keep talking and we’ll keep working,” Raab explained to Sky News.
“Obviously in the last resort the government has the powers to proceed in any event, but we would much rather work with the local leaders if at all possible.”
Currently, Greater Manchester is sticking to its guns.
Burnham responded to Raab’s comments on social media, stating: “It’s not about what we want for ourselves [Dominic Raab]. It’s about what we want for low-paid and self-employed people everywhere: fairness.”
Sir Richard Leese has also refused to budge since yesterday afternoon’s press conference.
Speaking on Tier 3 rules, the Manchester City Council leader stated: “They’ve [the government] not been able to provide evidence that it will reduce transmission and they want to close businesses without sufficient support.
“We’ve been under restrictions for nine weeks.”
Coronavirus rates in Manchester are slightly down this week, whereas they are still rising in surrounding boroughs.