Andy Burnham has demanded an “urgent debate and vote” in parliament in order to break the impasse over whether to place Manchester into a tier 3 lockdown.
In a letter to Boris Johnson on Sunday, the Greater Manchester mayor said MPs should agree “a fair financial framework” for regions living under the strictest restrictions.
Burnham has been resisting the government’s wish to place Manchester into tier 3, warning not enough support will being provided to protect people and businesses.
In inflammatory remarks, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on Sunday accused Burnham of having engaged in political “posturing” and called for him to accept the measures “to save people’s lives”.
Backed by Liverpool Metro mayor Steve Rotheram, Burnham called for a “full and fair furlough scheme” covering 80% of wages or at least the national minimum wage, support for the self-employed and improved compensation for businesses.
“With the challenging winter that lies ahead of the country, it is likely that most places will find themselves in Tier 3 at some point before a vaccine is found,” Burnham said.
“That is why we believe it is right for parliament to debate and agree what is a fair level of support for people and businesses in those areas.
“At present, local areas are agreeing individual deals with the government. It is by no means clear that these will be sufficient to cope with the pressures they will face. Also, the lack of transparency about this process and the risks of differential treatment is potentially divisive.
“Establishing clear national entitlements of the kind we had during the first lockdown will create a sense of fairness which in turn would help build public support for, and compliance with, any new restrictions.”
Earlier on Sunday, Burnham accused Johnson of having engaged in an “exaggeration” of the severity of Covid-19 in the region during a Downing Street press conference.
“It’s a serious situation but I don’t think it was the situation that was described by the prime minister on Friday evening,” the mayor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Burnham was said to have had a “constructive” conversation with Johnson’s chief strategic adviser, Sir Edward Lister, on Sunday afternoon as talks continued.