'We have the power to proceed' with Manchester Tier 3 lockdown if talks fail, Raab says

Manchester could have a Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown imposed on it if negotiations fail, Dominic Raab has told Sky News.

The foreign secretary said ministers have “the power to proceed” with putting the city into England’s highest band of measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

After a furious row blew up with Manchester politicians and Westminster following talks yesterday, Mr Raab said a deal “ought to be possible”.

“We’d much rather work with the local leaders if possible,” he told Kay Burley.

Earlier, the leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said there were no more discussions scheduled with the government today.

As breakthrough seems imminent with Lancashire leaders about the county moving into Tier 2, Mr Raab sought to pile the pressure on Manchester politicians to also accept new restrictions.

“We will keep talking and we’ll keep working,” he said.

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“Obviously in the last resort the government has the powers to proceed in any event.”

Mr Raab added the “right thing” for the country was to “avoid a second national lockdown” in the face of cases rising a further 18,980 and deaths by 138 on Thursday.

“The way to do it is with a tiered approach that we’ve advocated,” he said.

“That will only work, the scientists tell us, if everyone really leans in and implements it to the maximum.”

But at least one politician was unimpressed with Mr Raab’s message on Friday.

Labour’s Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham, tweeted that “less posturing and more practical solutions to reduce the spread of the virus and prevent economic harm… might just work”.