Downing Street’s flagship policy for tackling the coronavirus in England has descended into chaos after mayors and MPs from the north-west of the country emphatically rejected being moved into the highest lockdown level and accused ministers of treating the region with contempt.
Talks designed to broker an agreement ended with bitter and angry exchanges, deepening a north-south rift that has left the government’s strategy of tiered restrictions in turmoil.
While ministers could still unilaterally impose a lockdown, they believe local leaders’ cooperation is crucial in communicating and enforcing the restrictions.
The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said he would not accept his area being treated “as canaries in the coalmine for an experimental regional lockdown strategy”, one he said even the government’s own medical advisers did not think would work.
Read more: The Guardian