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Rishi Sunak said to be resisting Andy Burnham’s calls for return of 80% furlough pay

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BBCPolitics/Twitter & Number10/Flickr

Lockdown Tier 3 in Greater Manchester talks are said to be continuing today between Andy Burnham and the government.

According to reports, one minster expects an agreement to be made on whether Greater Manchester will follow Lancashire and move to the tightest restrictions on the new 3-tier system. 

The government is reportedly offering Greater Manchester ‘millions’ in extra funding to accept Tier 3 lockdown. 

However, Andy Burnham is calling for a return of the 80% furlough pay that will protect the incomes of thousands of people. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be resisting Burnham’s requests.

Over the weekend, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he had ‘constructive call’ with the prime minister’s team. 

Michael Gove said ‘we hope to agree a new approach’ and that the government wants the best for Greater Manchester.

He added that he hoped ‘we can find a way through together’ but criticised what he described as the ‘incoherence’ of politicians in the region. He warned that if an agreement could not be made, the government would ‘look at’ imposing restrictions. 

Andy Burnham explains that the new closures in Tier 3, such as pubs, bookies and gyms ‘are places where people are on low wages’.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News “I think the discussions have been productive but they have probably gone on too long now. We need to reach an agreement with local leaders.

“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but we do need to conclude this now.

“There has been a sense of uncertainty, which isn’t helpful to people living in Greater Manchester.

“More importantly, the number of cases is rising and the pressure on some of the hospitals in Greater Manchester is there for all to see.

“So, I think further measures and action now is important.”

In a letter to Westminster, Burnham said: “We recognise the uncertainty that this is causing and write to ask for your help in breaking the impasse and finding a fair resolution,”

The week on week infection rate in Greater Manchester is down 18% this week however leaked reports from The Guardian over the weekend claiming the area is ‘running out of beds’ in hospitals. 

The document shows that there are no spare beds in Salford, Stockport and Bolton.

The report states that by Friday 211 of the 257 (82% of total supply) critical care beds in Greater Manchester were being used for either those with Covid or people who were critically ill from another illness.

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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

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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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