The Andrew Marr Show
Labour mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham explained why he and other leaders in the area are resisting Tier 3 restrictions and pledged to “do anything to protect low-paid workers” who would be hit hard financially by the rules without further support.
- Asked whether he plans to speak to the Prime Minister today: “That’s not been suggested to me, but of course I would.”
- On the call he has scheduled: “I was due to speak to Sir Ed Lister today… Obviously I’m ready to speak to ministers.”
- On his opposition to Tier 3 for Greater Manchester: “This is all about the health of the people of Greater Manchester… Protecting health is about more than controlling the virus. We’ve been under those restrictions for three months. People’s mental health now is pretty low.”
- He added: “This isn’t about politics or about money, this is about people’s health… A punishing lockdown without support, trapping people in Tier 3 all winter, will cause real harm to health in the broadest possible sense.”
- On when local intensive care units will be full: “There are currently around 62 people in intensive car in Greater Manchester. Back in April there were 220… It’s a serious situation but I don’t think it’s the situation described by the Prime Minister on Friday evening.
- On next steps: “I’ll be writing to the main parties in Westminster to ask them to intervene, to ask parliament to intervene. What we need here is a fair financial framework if the government is going to insist on Tier 3.”
- On whether the government can impose Tier 3: “The government is the government and they of course can impose these restrictions. I’m glad they haven’t and obviously I think it would be a mistake to do it.”
- On whether he is still considering a legal challenge: “I would do anything to protect low-paid workers who I think now are very close to the edge. I don’t think they can survive on two-thirds wages. The legal challenge applies to that.”
- On the letter from Tory MPs opposing Burnham’s stance: “I’m not sure a ‘we’re alright Jack’ letter from a group of Southern Conservative MPs is going to cut much ice here… I would say to them: anywhere could end up in Tier 3 this winter, in fact places are likely to end up in Tier 3 this winter. It’s everyone’s concern that we protect the lowest paid.”
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, defended Labour’s call for a two- or three-week national circuit break. She accepted that repeated circuit breaks may be necessary, saying: “If that is what is needed, then that is the approach that has to be taken.”
- On whether it is fair to lock down areas in the country with low Covid levels: “The difference between what we’re proposing and what the government is doing is our circuit break would be backed up by an economic package of support.”
- She added: “The virus is on the rise in every part of the country… The R rate is above one everywhere in the country.”
- On the economic impact of not implementing a circuit break: “People are already, of their own volition, not going out and not using businesses… If you get on top of the health problem, you solve the economic problem.”
- On the government approach: “The tiered approach isn’t working. Tier 2 is just a holding ground before you go into Tier 3. 19 of the 20 areas that have been under restrictions, the virus has got worse and the restrictions have got greater.”
- Urging the government to use a circuit break to sort out test and trace: “The Serco test and trace model is failing. Sack Serco and give those responsibilities to local communities.”
- On whether the circuit break would have to be longer than 2-3 weeks: “SAGE and Labour are not suggesting that you come out of that two/three week period and go back to life as before… It’s important that the time is used to fix the test and trace system.”
- On whether it would be the first of many circuit breaks: “If that is what is needed, then that is the approach that has to be taken. Because we’ve got to get a grip of this virus. At the moment, it feels like you’re going into a tunnel and you have no idea where the end of that tunnel is.”
- On what must be done: “The government is pursuing a strategy now that we know isn’t working and is having a devastating impact on business. Try something different. Stop being wedded to this model that isn’t working – instead, follow the science.”
Reeves’ opposite number, Michael Gove, confirmed that the government would consider forcibly imposing restrictions on Greater Manchester if no agreement is reached.