The Mayor of Greater Manchester will appear on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday to defend his stance to resist a Tier 3 lockdown for the region.
It comes as Mayor Andy Burnham has blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for being “the problem” in the row over a lockdown for Greater Manchester, as confusion was cast over talks with Downing Street yesterday.
The feud between No 10 and the Labour mayor continued on Saturday after Downing Street said fresh talks had been set up for the weekend, only for Mr Burnham’s office to deny this.
Mr Burnham and Conservative politicians in Greater Manchester oppose Tier 3 measures being imposed, with the mayor calling for greater financial support for workers and businesses.
He has called for a return to the generosity of the original furlough scheme that saw 80% of workers wages paid by the Treasury, but Chancellor Mr Sunak has only offered a 66% subsidy for those whose firms forced to shut by Tier 3 measures.
The Greater Manchester mayor told the New Statesman magazine: “I think the problem now is, to a large degree, the Chancellor. I think he’s made wrong judgements throughout this.”
He criticised the Eat Out to Help Out meal subsidy scheme as a “poor judgment”, and added: “The cost of that should have been paying for the furlough now.”
But he insisted during the interview that the failure ultimately lies with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister: “He shouldn’t be allowing the Treasury to run the policy”.
Mr Burnham and council leaders have insisted they “are ready to meet at any time” in order to broker an agreement with No 10 but there was a failure in communication on Saturday.
Downing Street indicated a call had been scheduled for Sunday morning after a message was left with Mr Burnham.
But a spokesman for the mayor said: “Nothing has yet been arranged.”
A Downing Street source responded: “No 10 reached out this morning to try and arrange a meeting with the Mayor of Manchester.
“We will continue to try and reach an agreement on these difficult, yet necessary, measures to protect the NHS and the people of Manchester.”
But Mr Johnson has already threatened to impose measures without local support as he warned that “time is of the essence” and that “tragically more people will die” with each day of delay.
Mr Johnson has been under increased pressure to accept a short national lockdown known as a “circuit-breaker” to get a grip on the resurgence of Covid-19. The Prime Minister has been favouring local measures to try to slow the spread of the disease, but on Friday acknowledged he “can’t rule anything out” in taking national action.
In other developments this weekend:
- There were a further 16,171 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK and an extra 150 deaths of people who had tested positive in the past 28 days, according to Government figures, which put the total at 43,579.
- Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said his brother has died after being admitted to intensive care with Covid-19.
- Wales will have a two-week circuit breaker imposed next week, according to a leaked letter from the Confederation of Passenger Transport.