Appearing on ITV Good Morning Britain, the Labour Mayor insisted the Government must agree to an extra financial package of support before Greater Manchester can be put under Tier 3 coronavirus measures. But ITV host Kate Garraway accused Mr Burnham of risking fuelling a revolt to COVID-19 rules from the people of Manchester once the restrictions are indeed imposed at midday today, as expected.
Ms Garraway pointed out that as the Greater Manchester Mayor had publicly delayed restrictions defying the Government’s advice, people in Manchester could take his stance as a sign they are not obliged to follow new rules.
The ITV host said going out to break the rules and remaining open to survive may be “looked at something you might approve of”.
Mr Burnham denied ever saying he would reject Tier 3 restrictions at any cost and stressed that if the new measures will be imposed on Greater Manchester he will ensure they are enforced across the region.
But added: “I don’t think they should be imposing or dictating in this way because we need to work together as a country.
“I offered to work with the Government all year, I did when they asked me to agree to restrictions back in the summer.
“I think this is exactly what we do need to do which is Greater Manchester needs to establish a fair financial framework for Tier 3, because there’s a real chance that all parts of England will find themselves in Tier 3 at some point in the winter.
READ MORE: Manchester lockdown: Burnham in major clash with BBC host
“And if the terms aren’t right, we’re going to see real damage to people’s lives right across the country.
“This is an issue for everywhere, not just taking a stance for what we can get for Greater Manchester.
“I have to stress, we have our Conservative MP here behind what we’re saying, and our Conservative council leader.
“The Government needs to remember that we have unity here.”
Reading reactions from GMB viewers on Twitter, co-host Ranvir Singh also confronted the Labour politician with people claiming he was “playing God with people’s lives”, as well as others praising him for “standing up” to Boris Johnson.
Greater Manchester leaders are set to make a last-ditch bid for more funding after the Government issued an ultimatum threatening stringent new coronavirus controls unless a deal is agreed by midday.
Andy Burnham accused ministers of acting provocatively by issuing a statement on Monday night warning that the Government had no choice but to act because of the deteriorating situation in the region.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there were now “more COVID-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than in the whole of the South West and South East combined”.
He added: “Despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control.
“I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday (on Tuesday) then I must advise the Prime Minister that despite our best endeavours we’ve been unable to reach agreement.”
Mr Burnham said he would “try to be positive and respond, and see if we can find a way forward” despite the “slightly provocative move” by the Government.