Michael Gove has accused Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham of “posturing” and “political positioning” in refusing to accept strict new COVID-19 rules.
The government is currently at a stand-off with Mr Burnham over whether his region should be moved into the highest alert level of the new three-tier system for local coronavirus lockdowns.
Before agreeing to tougher Tier 3 restrictions, Mr Burnham has called for greater financial help for firms that would be affected by the move, which would see bars and pubs closed – and likely a number of other businesses.
Amid an increasingly bitter political row, Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, risked further inflaming tensions between ministers and the Greater Manchester mayor.
Asked if ministers would impose Tier 3 restrictions on Greater Manchester even without an agreement, he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “I want to reach an agreement with the political leadership in Greater Manchester.
“I want them to put aside, for a moment, some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in.
“And I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.
“An absence of action will mean more people will get infected, and as more people get infected that will place more pressure on the NHS.
“And the more people, sadly, in intensive care beds in the North West and in Manchester who are suffering from coronavirus, the fewer intensive care beds are there for people with other serious conditions.
“All of this is happening as we move closer to the winter and instead of press conferences and posturing, what we need is action to save people’s lives.”
© 2020 Sky UK
News – Coronavirus: Michael Gove accuses Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham of ‘posturing’ over COVID rules stand-off