Tory MPs write to health secretary criticising Burnham's handling of local lockdown

Reporter: Grace Marner
Date published: 07 August 2020

A Twitter row has broken out between the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Tory MPs in the region.

It comes after Andy Burnham said that it would be "impossible" to lift restrictions in any one borough in a press conference earlier this week (Wednesday). 

Local MPs in Wigan have urged to government to reconsider its decision to impose new measures because it has the lowest infection rate in Greater Manchester.

In the week ending August 1 there were 7.3 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Wigan - higher than the previous week but still the lowest in Greater Manchester.

Newly-released data shows that during the height of the pandemic in mid-April, the borough had the highest number of cases in the region with 120 per 100,000 people.

Mr Burnham said: "It's impossible I think to start breaking one borough off and separating boroughs out because Greater Manchester is an interconnected place.

"We've had reports of workplaces in the last week where we've had outbreaks.

"People from all over Greater Manchester work in different boroughs.

"We don't all completely live our lives within one borough and I think that's the issue. 

"The virus is bubbling under.

"It's endemic within all boroughs now.

"I would say at this point if we were to start picking off different rules for different boroughs we might further confuse what has been a difficult message over recent weeks. 

"Wigan is in close proximity to other boroughs where the number of positive cases is currently high.

"As it is bubbling under it doesn't take much for that spike to go up again.

"That's the way we've got to think about it.

"Not as a snapshot on any given day, but the fact that this virus is out there in all 10 boroughs and it can increase at any given time.

"Chopping and changing the advice from one week to the next is not the way to go in my opinion."

But conservative MP's have written a letter to the health secretary and published it on Twitter saying that this one size fits all approach is unacceptable.

Mr Burnham has since responded saying it was a decision taken by their government that he has supported.

He has also received support from Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon and Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

Mr McMahon Tweeted: "Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Combined Authority hold regular briefings for MPs to ensure we can represent our constituents.

"Keep it up @AndyBurnhamGM."

Rochdale Lib Dems also said that it's a "cheap shot from GM Tory MPs trying to blame others for their own Government's decisions," and added that, "some things cross party lines."

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