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Greater Manchester given midday deadline for Tier 3 decision

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Andy Burnham and other local leaders have been given until midday today to reach an agreement. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said ten days of discussions of moving Greater Manchester to Tier 3 have not resulted in an agreement. Jenrick warned that the prime minister would have to intervene if no deal is made by the deadline.

Andy Burnham and other local leaders are demanding further economic support for those businesses that would be affected by the new tighter restrictions in Tier 3. 

Last week, Burnham explained that there is a £62m gap per month between what the government was offering and what they thought was necessary. 

Burnham said he was meeting with council leaders this morning to come up with a ‘fair funding framework’ to help compensate the regions poorest workers, many of whom will suffer under the Tier 3 restrictions. 

He said: “This is about people who work in pubs, people who work in bookies, people who drive taxis, generally the people who Westminster politicians ignore,”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Burnham said: “A late-night ultimatum briefed to the media was a slightly provocative move, but I’m not coming on to rise to that. I’m going to try to be positive and respond and find a way forward.”

Jenrick’s ultimatum said: “We have offered an extensive package of support for local people and businesses, proportionate to the approach we have taken in the Liverpool city region and Lancashire and in addition to the wider national support.”

However, Burnham insisted: “We’ve never been given a figure for that additional support. So what I will be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders, when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the government with what we think a fair figure is, given we have been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here.

“The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people who we think are going to need to be supported under a tier 3 lockdown.”

Burnham recognised that London asked for support for businesses and workers hit by Tier 2 last week and added: “I don’t disagree with them and I support them in that call. But I hope people will support us in recognising the position that we are in and all along this has been about standing up for people and businesses which otherwise are going to be seriously harmed by a lockdown which at this point in time is not fully funded.

“And it’s really important to stress that this unites everybody in Greater Manchester. This isn’t posturing. It commands the support of our MPs and all of our council leaders.”

One of Greater Manchester’s nine Conservative MP’s (Bury South), said while he was not insistent on 80% furlough wage like Burnham there should be a ‘minimum floor’.

He added: “If it’s not 80%, it’s no lower than a set amount, whether that’s minimum wage or something else, so that we are not forcing people into destitution.

“I appreciate the knock-on effect that has because you couldn’t just introduce that for Greater Manchester, but I do think that’s an area that has unity between Conservatives and Labour. I don’t want to be a member of parliament who pushes someone into destitution so they can’t put food on the table just before Christmas.”

“There needs to be that minimum floor, the threshold beneath which you know you are not going to go, especially as we are approaching winter months. It’s one thing saying 80% during the summer but when a lot more money is going on heating your home we really do need to focus on that.”

Burnham said he made no apology for fighting for a ‘fair financial framework’ that would benefit Greater Manchester’s 2.8m residents, and the rest of England.

“We are standing up not just for ourselves but everywhere. Because there is a very good chance that every part of England will find themselves in tier 3 over the coming winter,” he said.

Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese told BBC2 Newsnight: “I am hoping that tomorrow (Tuesday) morning we will be able to sit down again with ministers and come to an agreement which will serve the best interests of the people of Manchester,”

“Clearly if Government imposes Tier 3 – and I hope that won’t happen – we will clearly need to comply with that.”

On Sky News this morning, Andy Burnham said ‘this is not about politics’, adding: “I’m coming along today to say I still want to work to try and get a resolution, but I just hope your viewers will understand that this is not about politics.

“I have the support of Conservative MPs here for what I am saying – it is not posturing.”

“I do worry that if the Government is going to go down this route of imposing these punishing lockdowns on local areas, I think it will lose the public support that it will need to try and help us all as a country rise to the fight against this pandemic this winter.”

Burnham further explained that he wanted to ensure the lowest-paid people in the region would be supported if Tier 3 restrictions are put in. He said, ‘these are the people that Westminster politicians traditionally ignore’ 

Adding: “We are not going to do that here. If you’re going to impose a lockdown here, it’s going to cause certain harm … to all of the people that I’ve mentioned.

“That is why we have stood firm, because we don’t believe we can consign our residents to hardship in that way.”

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Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens

The violence spilled out into the street

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Magnus D / Flickr

A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.

Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.

The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.

Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.

Peter McDermott / Geograph

Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.

Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.

This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.

Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.

And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.

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Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June

Do you agree?

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Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.

In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.

One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.

Nickolay Romensky/Flickr

Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.

“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”

According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.

Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.

He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). 

There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.

The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.

“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”



It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.

“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”

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Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters

It follows weeks of allegations against the PM

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No10 / Flickr

According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.

The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.

The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.

No10 / Flickr

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him. 

“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections. 

“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”

No10 / Flickr

The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.

However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.

Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.

Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.

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