Andy Burnham 'faked £22,000,000 moment for TV cameras'

Greater Manchester’s mayor pretended on live TV to have only just learnt the region’s tier three support package had been slashed by two thirds, a minister claims.

At a press conference yesterday Andy Burnham looked devastated as he was shown a text message claiming the county would only receive £22million.

Describing the revelation as ‘brutal’, he said: ‘This is no way to run the country in a national crisis. This is not right, they should not be doing this, grinding people down trying to accept the least they can get away with.’

Local leaders turned down Downing Street’s previous offer of £60million saying they’d need £65million at the ‘bare minimum’ to soften the economic blow of tier three restrictions.

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But on Sky News this morning, Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said Burnham didn’t find out about the £22million live on TV, claiming he told him about it around two hours before the press conference started.

The minister added: ‘I phoned him and told him. We had several conversations over the course of the morning, including with the Prime Minister, and I told him the final news at 2 o’clock.’

When asked by presenter Kay Burley if he thought Burnham was ‘showboating’ for the cameras, Jenrick said: ‘I am not the slightest bit interested in point scoring. This isn’t about personalities or press conferences on the steps of town halls.

‘In the end, it’s about an important public health situation and it’s about ensuring the people of Greater Manchester now get the support that they deserve.’

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Jenrick claimed the £60million support package turned down by Burnham was still available.

He said: ‘The money is still there. It’s got Greater Manchester’s name on it.

‘We have had very productive conversations with the local council leaders in recent days. The council leaders can come to me, my door is open.

‘They can come to me today and we can start making the same arrangements as we are now doing intensively with Merseyside, Lancashire and other parts of the country.’

Arguing that talks with Burnham broke down because he insisted on ‘preferential treatment’ for the region, Jenrick said: ‘The mayor of Greater Manchester was never willing to draw this to a conclusion. The public health situation was deteriorating.

‘It would have frankly been irresponsible of the Government to allow this to continue for many more days without bringing it to a conclusion.

‘In a meeting with the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister offered £55 million, Andy Burnham asked for £65 million.

‘The Prime Minister said “Look, let’s just compromise, and get this done for the sake of people in Greater Manchester.”

‘Andy Burnham wasn’t willing to, so we had to take action.’

Tier three measures will come into effect in the metropolitan county after midnight on Friday.

Boris Johnson announced yesterday evening that all pubs and bars will be forced to close their doors to the public for 28 days, unless they are serving ‘substantial meals’.

Betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas will also be ordered to close their doors.

Households cannot mix indoors or in most outdoor spaces, and travel into and out of the region is strongly advised against.

The new measures could lead to the closure of more than 1,800 pubs and 140 wine bars, as well as 277 betting shops and 12 casinos, according to the real estate adviser Altus Group.

This morning the Sheffield City Mayor Dan Jarvis announced that South Yorkshire will also be going into tier three lockdown from Saturday, affecting another 1.4 million people.

Along with Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire, 7.3 million people or 13% of England’s population will be living under the toughest restrictions of the country’s ‘traffic light’ Covid-alert system.

South Yorkshire’s agreement with the Government is worth £41million, including £30million to support the region’s businesses, and £11million for councils to support safety measures such as test and trace.

Liverpool secured a £30million support package for businesses on top of £14million already agreed on to aid the test and trace system.

Lancashire manged to get £42million out of the £58.2million it was asking for.

Number 10 was only offering £12million to begin with before the North West county piled on the pressure.

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