Sadiq Khan has called on the Government to stop treating regional leaders like “adversaries”, as he backed Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s fight against Tier 3 lockdown.
Sadiq Khan said his northern counterpart has “tried to be collegiate” but is now seeking the best deal for his region.
The Government wants to move Greater Manchester – an area including the city, and towns like Wigan, Bolton and Stockport – to the highest risk level in the new local lockdown plan.
This would mean pubs and bars would close unless they could operate as restaurants – and some other businesses such as gyms and casinos could also be shut.
But Mr Burnham says the two thirds of pay that workers at shuttered firms would get from the Treasury is not enough.
The Greater Manchester Mayor accused ministers of using his region as a “sacrificial lamb” to test new restrictions.
And speaking on LBC radio this morning, Mr Khan acknowledged the “real grievances” northern leaders feel about restrictions.
“[The Government] really shouldn’t treat Mayors or leaders of councils across the country as adversaries or with suspicion,” he said.
“What Andy Burnham is seeking to do is make sure that Government understands the consequences of some of their decisions.
“He’s tried to be collegiate. He’s tried to make these points for a number of weeks now.”
Liverpool is the only English region so far to enter Tier 3 lockdown – but Mr Khan claimed it was unfair to compare the approach of Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotherham with his Manchester counterpart.
Lockdown in Liverpool was not up for debate, whereas in Manchester the Government is still willing to talk, he argued.
Ministers can impose restrictions on any English region, even without the agreement of mayors and council leaders.
But Mr Khan warned against a “divide and rule politics” of pitting local leaders against each other.
“What I hope [ministers] do is recognise mayors and leaders across the country want to be allies of the Government not adversaries,” he said.