BORIS JOHNSON is set to force Greater Manchester into a Tier Three lockdown today, October 16, despite a rebellion from northern Tory MPs.
Several Conservative MPs last night sided with Manchester mayor Andy Burnham who said the government was making Manchester a ‘sacrificial lamb’ by slapping on the toughest lockdown measures, so far only imposed on Liverpool.
He said the north was being treated like a ‘canary in the coal mine’ with experimental restrictions, claiming that if London was in the same position there would be a nationwide clampdown.
But the PM is set to force Manchester into Tier Three lockdown on the government’s Tier Three list with or without Mr Burnham’s approval, even though the mayor threatened legal action if it was imposed.
Talks on whether Lancashire will go into lockdown went into the night and are set to resume this morning.
Tier Three lockdown would see all bars and pubs who do not serve meals shut, along with a ban on an indoor mixing of homes.
In a further blow to the PM’s plan, the government’s scientific advisers think Mr Johnson’s regional three-tier lockdown system is doomed to fail.
Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the current base level of restrictions, which includes a 10pm curfew, were the ‘worst of all worlds’ as they inflicted economic damage while not going far enough to suppress the virus.
The director of the Wellcome Trust told the BBC’s Newscast podcast a short ‘circuit-break’ should have been introduced in September and implored ministers to ‘act’ as soon as possible.
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer is understood to have backed the circuit-breaker plan – telling leaders in the north that a country-wide lockdown is the only strategy that will see success.
It comes after Mr Hancock blasted Mr Burnham’s interventions, urging local leaders to ‘set aside this party politics’ and work with the government to ‘put in place the measures that are needed in Greater Manchester.’
Now, in a sign that his own party is seeing a dramatic north-south divide, local Tory MPs have also rejected calls for the region to be placed into Tier Three.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said, ‘The case has not been made for Greater Manchester to move into a Tier Three lockdown.’
Sir Graham, MP for Altrincham and Sale West in Greater Manchester, added, ‘There is widespread concern amongst MPs, council leaders and the mayor of Greater Manchester, all resisting the suggestion that Tier Three should be introduced.’