Boris Johnson has rejected claims he is “at war with the North” in the latest coronavirus briefing.
Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister repeatedly thanked local leaders after being accused of treating the region unfairly.
Answering a question from the press, Johnson said this was not the case and cited a number of “great conversations” he had with leaders in Liverpool and elsewhere.
He said: “I must strongly reject what you say about me being “at war with the north” and that is not the case.
“I have had great conversations with local leaders in Liverpool, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and everyone who has come to the table has shown leadership and stepped up to the plate to help bring the R rate down in that particular area.”
Boris Johnson also denied that the North had been neglected in terms of financial support.
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The Prime Minister said: “The issue is really one of basic fairness between various parts of the country that are having to experience regional restrictions, that’s what we were trying to achieve in the last 10 days.
“What we are doing now is bringing forward measures that are designed to help businesses that can’t trade as they normally would and who are experiencing a fall in income.
“And we are doing it across the whole country, it’s backdated to August.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This is simply about fairness, it’s about treating people the same wherever they live and whatever their situation.”
Earlier in the day, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he had ‘no regrets’ over the way he handled discussions with ministers and invited the prime minister to visit the city to ‘clear the air’.
Days of tense talks over how much financial support would be offered to the region as it came under the strictest lockdown measures in England broke down on Tuesday resulting in a Tier 3 lockdown being imposed on Greater Manchester.
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The government would offer no more than £60 million to the region, which ministers insisted was in line with the funding offered to Liverpool and Lancashire.
Mr Burnham addressed the negotiations as he spoke to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee today about the government’s promise to ‘level up’ the north.
“Perhaps this is a moment where England rose up a little around devolution and the rest of the country,” he said.
The committee heard from several other metro mayors including Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotherham.
Mr Burnham said: “The culture is still that Westminster holds all the power and all the money.
“The mayors on this call have to go on bended knee and plead sometimes for some of that money.”
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