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Starmer’s lockdown plea backfires as Labour leader faces fury for ‘punishing’ UK areas

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A circuit breaker lockdown is needed to get the R-rate down and reverse the trend of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions, according to Sir Keir Starmer. The Labour Party leader has sparked fury across the country for urging the Government to plunge the UK into aa temporary second national shutdown. Conservative MPs in areas like Norfolk, Cornwall and Somerset have sounded the alarm over the Opposition leader’s call.

Twenty MPs have written to Labour saying they have much lower COVID-19 rates than Manchester.

Given this disparity, they claim “it does not make sense to shut down the whole country when the virus is spiking in particular locations”.

They urged Sir Keir to work with the Government to get the virus under control in Greater Manchester.

Many are desperate to “avoid the pain and punishment” of another national lockdown.

However, many leaders in Greater Manchester are warning that this is not just their fight.

Mayor Andy Burnham has been particularly vocal, accusing the UK Government of treating the North like an experiment for its regional lockdown strategy.

He claimed that the Government’s own top scientific advisers have told him such a strategy has no guarantee of success and will result in job losses and hardship.

The mayor said: “They are asking us to gamble our residents’ jobs, homes and businesses and a large chunk of our economy on a strategy that their own experts tell them might not work. We would never sign up for that.”

Senior Cabinet minister, Michael Gove, railed against both Sir Keir and Mr Burnham.

He told the BBC: “The Labour leader is calling for national restrictions.

“Why won’t Keir Starmer himself pick up the phone to say to Andy Burnham, ‘show some leadership in Manchester and put the country first’?”

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Mr Burnham is currently fighting Government attempts to move Greater Manchester into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick is to hold further discussions with leaders in Greater Manchester to try to break the deadlock.

The minister told BBC Breakfast: “This is a serious situation and it demands action this week, preferably today.

“So I hope leaders in Greater Manchester, who obviously care about their city and local people, will see that, reach an agreement with us and now move forward with the decisive action that is necessary.

“Delay, I’m afraid, will only make the situation worse, will only put people’s lives at risk and will only make the economic fallout of the city worse in the long term.”

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