Andy Burnham : Mayor Andy Burnham has blamed Chancellor Rishi Sunak for being “the problem” in the row over a lockdown for Greater Manchester, as confusion was cast over talks with Downing Street.
The feud between No 10 and the Labour mayor continued on Saturday after Downing Street said fresh talks had been set up for the weekend, only for Mr Burnham’s office to deny this.
Mr Burnham and Conservative politicians in Greater Manchester oppose Tier 3 measures being imposed, with the mayor calling for greater financial support for workers and businesses.
He has called for a return to the generosity of the original furlough scheme that saw the Treasury pay 80% of workers wages, but Mr Sunak has only offered a 66% subsidy for those whose firms forced to shut by Tier 3 measures.
The Greater Manchester mayor told the New Statesman magazine: “I think the problem now is, to a large degree, the Chancellor. I think he’s made wrong judgements throughout this.
He criticised the Eat Out to Help Out meal subsidy scheme as a “poor judgment”, and added: “The cost of that should have been paying for the furlough now.”
But he insisted, during the interview conducted on Friday, that the failure ultimately lies with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister: “He shouldn’t be allowing the Treasury to run the policy”.
Mr Burnham and council leaders have insisted they “are ready to meet at any time” in order to broker an agreement with No 10 but there was a failure in communication on Saturday.
Downing Street indicated a call had been scheduled for Sunday morning after a message was left with Mr Burnham.
But a spokesman for the mayor said: “Nothing has yet been arranged.”
A Downing Street source responded: “No 10 reached out this morning to try and arrange a meeting with the Mayor of Manchester.