Andy Burnham accused of 'showboating' over Greater Manchester funding deal

ANDY Burnham has been accused of "showboating" over the Greater Manchester funding deal as they were forced into Tier 3 restrictions.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick claimed the Mayor put on a show of "finding out" the Government would not cave to his financial demands on live TV but he had actually been told on the phone two hours before.

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Mr Burnham blew up a deal with the Government after he refused to accept an offer of £60 million to help Manchester cope with Tier 3 restrictions.

He wouldn't budge any lower than £65 million, but was angling for as much as £95 million.

During a live press conference yesterday, Mr Burnham was shown a message by another local leader saying Manchester would only receive No10's initial offer of £22million after talks collapsed and Boris Johnson forced the city into Tier 3 restrictions.

But Mr Jenrick claimed the local leader was "showboating" – and he had already phoned him to break the news Manchester would only get £22million.

When asked if it was "fair" for Mr Burnham to find out on live TV, he Housing Secretary told Sky News: "He didn't. I phoned him and told him."

"We had several conversations over the course of (yesterday) morning, including with the Prime Minister, and I told him the final news at 2pm."

When asked if the Northern Mayor was "showboating" for the cameras, Mr Jenrick said: "I'm not in 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 ensuring the people of Greater Manchester now get what they deserve."

And Health Minister Nadine Dorries slammed the Manchester Mayor of "playing to the gallery".

In response to a picture of Mr Burnham reading a message on TV, she said: "This wasn’t the moment though.

"It was ⁦@AndyBurnhamGM⁩ playing to gallery.

"He was personally and respectfully telephoned by Robert Jenrick at 2pm and told the news long before this tableau was played out." ⁦

Mr Johnson said last night he was left with no choice but to impose the measures on Manchester to “save lives” as local hospitals were filling up with Covid patients.

He said Manchester had been given “a generous and extensive offer” and blasted the Mayor for snubbing the financial package.

He said at Downing Street: “We have to act. Because not to act would put Manchester’s NHS, and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents, at risk."

Sources said Mr Burnham lost out because his "pride" got in the way and he had also demanded a bigger support package than those received by leaders in Liverpool and Lancashire, which the PM said would not be fair.

Tory MPs for Greater Manchester wrote a furious letter to Mr Burnham last night after he refused to agree to a deal.

The letter, signed by six Tory MPs including Chris Clarkson and James Grady, stormed: "We all want the very best possible outcome for our area and so take no issue with your effort to get an enhanced package for Greater Manchester.

"What we cannot fathom is, when the Government offered to give you 92 per cent of what you asked for, with a settlement of an additional £60m of funding, you decided the best option was to walk away having secured absolutely nothing."

In a statement in the Commons last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the higher £60million offer was still on the table and told Mr Burnham to "pick up the phone".

He said: "Of course, we do not want businesses in Greater Manchester to be disadvantaged so that offer remains on the table.

"Our door is open to further discussions with local leaders in the coming days about business support."

This morning, Mr Jenrick repeated the Health Secretary's message that all Mr Burnham had to do was ask.

"(The £60million) is more than just on the table, it's there. It has Manchester's name on it, and I want to ensure it gets into the hands of local business people."


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