Talks with Greater Manchester about the region entering tougher coronavirus restrictions have ended “without an agreement”, a minister has said.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who had set a midday deadline for Greater Manchester moving into Tier 3, said: “I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government.”
Local leaders have been pushing for the government to grant £75m in total, after ministers offered £22.4m for the implementation of extra measures plus an unspecified sum of “business support”.
They had been racing to secure a compromise by 12pm on Tuesday – the deadline set last night by Mr Jenrick.
Boris Johnson, who is due to hold a Downing Street news conference at 5pm today, made clear he would impose the move to Tier 3 if stalemate remains.
The prime minister told senior cabinet members on Tuesday that he has “sought to work constructively with leaders across Greater Manchester” but “cases continue to be extremely high across the region”.
“The most worrying rises are in the 60+ age group where the case rate tripled in the 15 days up to 12 October,” he added.
Downing Street later confirmed Mr Johnson and Andy Burnham spoke on the phone around Tuesday lunchtime.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, challenged the chancellor in parliament, saying said local leaders are only asking for “proper financial support… after 12 weeks of failed lockdown measures” and asked: “Why does this government hate Greater Manchester?”
Rishi Sunak said he was “disappointed” with Mr Gwynne’s “tone” and politicians should “act in a constructive spirit”, adding he was already “helping the most vulnerable in our society”.
Earlier, Mr Burnham criticised what he called a “provocative” and “late-night ultimatum” by Mr Jenrick.
The mayor of Greater Manchester accused ministers of “trying to penny pinch” with their offer of £22.4m.
But he said he would “accept” Tier 3 being imposed if Mr Johnson chooses to do so, because it is the prime minister’s “prerogative” and he “wouldn’t break the law”.
Which tier is my area – and what are the new rules?
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Kay Burley show a “good package” of support was already on offer and there could be “more to come”.
And he cautioned swift action was necessary because by the first week of November at the current trajectory, there will be no intensive care unit beds in Greater Manchester.