Following the government’s imposition of tier 3 covid restrictions – the most stringent – on Greater Manchester, Boris Johnson has come under increasing criticism in recent days.
Greater Manchester Mayor, a Labour Party mayor has said that the Conservative government “is playing poker with people’s lives” and:
“This is no way to run a country in a national crisis”
Prior to the imposition of the restrictions, Burnham was refusing to agree to Greater Manchester being placed in tier 3, arguing that the government should pay the city £95m to manage the situation. The government was offering £22m. The figure of £60m has also been discussed between the Mayor and Westminster, but Burnham reportedly refused it.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that the Greater Manchester Mayor is trying to “hold the government over a barrel”. Raab has also said:
“We can’t have a situation where Andy Burnham is effectively saying unless you give us what we want, we’re not going to do the right thing in terms of following the new rules, which will protect the very people of Manchester he’s elected to represent.”
The job of the Mayor is to represent the interests of his city, however, there is little doubt that Burnham has also been attempting to embarrass the government and has to a large extent been successful in doing so.
In the meantime, health experts have criticised the government’s approach to regional lockdowns, saying there is a likelihood that they’ll have little effect. Instead they have been arguing for briefer, but more intense ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns, for briefer periods.
A number of health experts, MPs, local authorities, commentators and politicians such as Nigel Farage have criticised the government's strategy. Henry Bolton of the Boudicca Policy think tank said:
“The situation in Greater Manchester and the concern of medical experts, together with what is now an acceptance that the infection rate is being driven in schools where no meaningful mitigating measures are being put in place, demonstrates the total lack of strategic planning in government. The strategy almost non-existent and what there is, is chaotic and piecemeal. As a result the Nation and our economy are being made to suffer. This is a time when we should be building the nation up, not knocking it down”.