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Six Greater Manchester Tory MPs accuse Burnham of putting his ‘ego’ above ‘responsibility’

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Six of Greater Manchester’s Tory MPs have written to Mayor Andy Burnham accusing him of putting his ‘ego’ above ‘responsibility’ for the area.

Boris Johnson announced the news yesterday that Greater Manchester would be put in the highest level of coronavirus restrictions after negotiations between ministers and local leaders broke down.

Burnham explained that leaders of Greater Manchester had requested £90m ‘to cover the cost of 80% furlough wages and self-employed scheme’ in the region.

However ministers offered £60m in return after the negotiations. 

Boris Johnson confirmed £22m in the press conference last night with Health Secretary Matt Hancock later informing the House of commons that the £60m offer ‘remains on the table’.

Chris Clarkson, conservative MP for Heywood and Middleton tweeted last night: “Greater Manchester MPs wrote to Andy Burnham today to express our concern about his failure to come to an agreement with the Government. The Mayor now needs to let Local MPs and council leaders have a go at getting a sensible settlement.”

Andy responded: ” You haven’t got this quite right Chris. We asked for £90m – which is the cost of an 80% furlough & self-employed scheme.

“We were offered £60m – 66% of our ask, the same that pub staff in Heywood & Middleton are deemed to be worth.

“You can vote to change that today. Will you?”

Bury Conservative Group leader, Nick Jones tweeted: “Andy Burnham has completely failed in his duty for the people of Greater Manchester. Time for him to step aside and let local Leaders and MPs work with the government to reach a settlement.”

Not all Tory MPs in the region are supporting the letter. Conservative MP Chris Green from Bolton West said Bolton had ‘been through a far tougher lockdown than tier 3 and it didn’t work’.

He added: “The government believes that three weeks of closing pubs and soft play centres will make a dramatic difference. It hasn’t and it won’t.”

Following the announcements last night, Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the PM was ‘punishing the people of Greater Manchester’.

Adding: “This isn’t a game, it’s about people’s lives, people need proper financial support,”

“This is a national crisis and we won’t defeat this virus on the cheap.”

Liverpool mayor Steve Rotherham took to Twitter last night to emphasise ‘solidarity’ with Andy Burnham and ‘everyone in Greater Manchester’.

Adding: “We’re in the middle of a health crisis yet the Government is playing divide and rule.”

Sacha Lord tweeted last night: “Angry. Disappointed. Speechless.”

Adding: “I will make my feelings on this shambolic Government decision clear tomorrow. The fight will go on.”

Details of the restrictions are set to be announced today.

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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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