Andy Burnham has called on MPs to 'reject' Rishi Sunak's new coronavirus bailout programme because it will lead to 'severe redundancies' across the North of England
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham today called on MPs to 'reject' Rishi Sunak's new coronavirus bailout programme because it will lead to 'severe redundancies' across the North of England.
The local Labour leader claimed the furlough-style scheme, which allows workers to claim two-thirds of their wages up to £2,100 if their workplaces are ordered to close, would 'surrender our residents to hardship in the run-up to Christmas and our businesses to potential failure'.
Speaking at a press conference also attended by mayors from Liverpool and North Tyne, Mr Burnham added the scheme and further restrictions would cripple the local economy and cause the North to 'level down'.
'To accept the Chancellor's package as outlined yesterday would be to surrender our residents to hardship in the run up to Christmas and our businesses to potential failure or collapse,' he said.
'We are not prepared to do that. It will level down the north of England and widen the north-south divide.'
His comments come as Boris Johnson is set to outline a new three-tiered system of restrictions on Monday with measures expected to see pubs and restaurants shut across the north of England.
Under the three-tier system, different parts of the country would be placed in different categories, with areas in the highest level expected to face tough restrictions such as hospitality venues closing.
Mr Sunak announced yesterday that workers in businesses which are forced to close under the new restrictions will have two thirds of their wages paid by the Government. In other coronavirus developments:Doctors warn face masks should be mandatory inside and outside in England to curb the spread of infections; A think-tank warns furlough mark two could cost the Treasury more than £2.4billion in six months as it estimates 444,000 hospitality employees will qualify for the scheme; Revellers are filmed spilling into London's Leicester Square and dancing together with no regard for social distancing measures after 10pm curfew; London Mayor Sadiq Khan warns the capital could face tougher restrictions as leafy Richmond becomes the worst-hit borough - but one report suggests the R rate in the city is below 1; Scottish drinkers have been making the most of their last day at the bar before pubs shut down at 6pm for two weeks in a bid to crackdown on coronavirus.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he expected his city to be in the highest category of restrictions. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he added: 'I do believe that the measures that will be introduced will be a lockdown of public houses from Wednesday within the city of Liverpool and beyond the city of Liverpool in terms of the whole region
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced yesterday that workers in businesses which are forced to close under the new restrictions will have two thirds of their wages paid by the Government
Mr Burnham said he was calling for cross-party support from MPs across the north for a vote in Parliament on the support proposals announced by the Chancellor.
'I would not rule out a legal challenge,' he said.
In an open letter published alongside the press conference the leaders added: 'We believe the Government should bring forward a separate vote on the financial package to provide an opportunity to reject the current financial package and requiring the Government to return with an improved package taking account of the important points we have raised.
'We would ask that you use whatever routes might be open to you to bring about a vote in the House.'
The letter is signed by Mr Burnham, Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, Mayor of North of Tyne Jamie Driscoll, and Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer was also critical of the business aid package and said there were gaps in it.
Speaking at a Co-operative Party virtual conference he said: 'I think, though, that the Government has lost sight of the guiding principle, and the guiding principle should be that restrictions are always accompanied by appropriate economic support.
'If that had been the principle throughout, we wouldn't be in the mess that we are in at the moment.'
Earlier today, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said he expected his city to be in the highest category of restrictions.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he added: 'I do believe that the measures that will be introduced will be a lockdown of public houses from Wednesday within the city of Liverpool and beyond the city of Liverpool in terms of the whole region.
'We do believe that there will be a concession to restaurants in terms of allowing restaurants to stay open until 10 o'clock.'
Real estate adviser Altus Group has said there are 7,171 pubs in areas with restrictions across the north of England at risk of temporary closure.
The Government's new regime would see hospitality taking another hit as local restrictions would see pubs and bars in Merseyside and other parts of the North ordered to shut their doors. In a sign of official confusion, however, restaurants will be allowed to remain open until the curfew (pictured, a deserted Mathew Street in Liverpool city centre)
It comes amid fears that coronavirus cases are rising in the North of England as a result of young people going to hospitality venues. However,