“Their attitude now is: ‘you’ll get what we give you.'”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham arrived at Bridgewater Hall on Tuesday afternoon to share some bad news.
There would be no deal for the North-West region – with local leaders unable to come to an agreement despite 11 days of negotiations.
Greater Manchester would be placed into Tier 3 by force instead – and have extra measures imposed on them at the stroke of midnight on Thursday evening.
But there was no hint of a defeatist attitude in Burnham’s address.
The Mayor opened the press conference with typical, politician-like professionalism, but as the conference wore on, his tone became bullish, and eventually angry.
Flanked by members of his local councils, Burnham passionately defended his region and claimed the fight would go on.
“It cannot be right to close businesses without proper support so they can look after themselves and their families through a very challenging winter that lies ahead of us,” he told reporters.
[This] was not about what we wanted. It was about what we needed.
“The government should realise that, if they are asking people to close down places of work, they have to fully support them.
“The ‘whatever it takes’ attitude from earlier this year has gone. Now it is ‘you’ll get what we give you’.”
From 00.01 Friday, in every Greater Manchester borough, pubs and bars that do not serve substantial meals will need to close.
Betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas must also shut.
There is also a total ban on household mixing with people discouraged from travelling in/out of the area.
To cope with the incoming “hardship” of Tier 3, local leaders requested £90m – a demand which was eventually lowered to £65m (which Burnham called the “bare minimum”).
The government offered Greater Manchester £60m and would refuse to go any higher, promptly walking away from the table.
Hours later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would impose Tier 3 measures on Greater Manchester with £28m of initial support.
The £60m deal – which Health Secretary Matt Hancock insists is “fair” – remains on the table.
Negotiations will continue.
But in the meantime, Greater Manchester has reacted. And so has the rest of the country.
Down south, a mock London Underground board was created with the message “London stands with Manchester”, whilst Labour Leader Kier Starmer called the government’s treatment of the North West a “disgrace”, claiming his party would force Parliament to vote for a fair deal for communities facing restrictions.
Liverpool mayor Steve Rotherham – whose region is already under Tier 3 restrictions – emphasised there was “solidarity” in the north, criticising the government for “making us fight for millions.”
Within Manchester itself, the mood was one of frustration and disappointment.
Sacha Lord described himself as “speechless” at the government’s actions, claiming it was a “total disregard for the relentless work Andy Burnham and our Leaders have done to keep people in our City region from poverty.”
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy also expressed her irritation, claiming it “feels like this Government is actively working against us to inflict harm on its citizens”.
Burnham has repeatedly claimed that getting a good deal has been about “more than Greater Manchester.”
The Liverpool ECHO’s political correspondent Liam Thorp described the Mayor as “standing up for local government that has been battered and criminally underfunded for the past 10 years.”
And the flood of support that’s come in for Greater Manchester suggests that Burnham’s actions have indeed struck a chord.
Yesterday’s midday deadline was provided by the government in an attempt to end the tier saga. But the reaction this morning demonstrates that this is far from over.
When talks do finally conclude, whenever that will be, this episode won’t be forgotten in a hurry.