Manchester moved to Tier 3 as Andy Burnham warns country will fracture

Manchester will move into Tier 3 without any additional business support money from central Government, the Prime Minister has suggested.

Tier 3 lockdown means many businesses in Manchester will now have to close, while households cannot mix.

The move comes as coronavirus rates continue to spike in the area, and could reach the level of the city's peak in April in two weeks if the rate is now slowed.

But speaking live from Downing Street, fresh from an almighty row with Andy Burnham, Mr Johnson said it would be unfair to give Manchester a £65m funding package that was "out of kilter" with other regions that have received support.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday night Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said the Government's "door [was] open" to more negotiation on Manchester's funding settlement. The £60m offer is still on the table, he said.

Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, accused the Government of a "petty, vindictive, callous response in a national crisis".

Read the full Tier 3 rules here, and follow the latest updates below.

That's all from us

That's the way the mop flops: Andy Burnham was told Manchester businesses would get £60m or nothing Credit: REUTERS

We're going to leave the debate in the Commons on Matt Hancock's statement there, but you can follow the rest of interventions by other MPs over on our coronavirus live blog.

It's been a busy and bitter day in politics today, with Manchester headed into Tier 3 from Thursday night amid a furious row between Andy Burnham, the city's mayor, and Boris Johnson.

In short:

  • Greater Manchester will go into Tier 3 - which is explained here - and many of its businesses will have to close.
  • Boris Johnson said the Government walked away from negotiations on a settlement for Manchester's businesses, after he and Andy Burnham reached their red lines of £60m and £65m.
  • Instead, Manchester has no businesses support, but Downing Street says its "door is open".
  • Labour accused the PM of being "petty, vindictive and callous," and was counter-accused of "playing political games" with the virus.

We asked you...

Is Boris Johnson's three-tiered system working?   

1,342 of you voted and:

  • 54 per cent said: "Not really, but we must avoid lockdown for as long as we can".
  • 39 per cent said: "Broadly yes, but ministers must put their foot down".
  • 7 per cent said: "No, we must have a circuit breaker now before it gets worse".

Labour playing 'political games' with Manchester's funding settlement - Hancock

In response, Matt Hancock accuses Jon Ashworth of "political games" with the virus, when he is normally "so reasonable".

He repeats his point that the offer of £60m is still on the table if Andy Burnham wants to return to negotiations.

Chiming in from the backbenches, Sir Peter Bottomley, the Father of the House, says the offer is "proportionate".

Government is 'petty, vindictive and callous' - Ashworth

Jon Ashworth - the Shadow Health Secretary - accuses the Government of a "petty, vindictive, callous response in a national crisis".

He says the Government should have found an extra £5m for the business support package in Manchester.

"The Prime Minister may think he is punishing the politicians. In fact he is punishing the people of Greater Manchester."

Jon Ashworth: Manchester looks on in disbelief

Jon Ashworth sounds absolutely furious.

"Tonight, people across Manchester and the boroughs of Greater Manchester and towns like Stockport and Leigh and Bury, where I grew up, will be watching the news in disbelief," he says.

"They will be worried if they are affected by these closures. And they will be asking: why was it right to cover 80 per cent of wages in March, and now in the run up to Christmas, cover just two-thirds of wages in October?"

Mr Ashworth said the Government's new Job Support Scheme - which replaces the furlough scheme - will mean people on the national minimum wage will now be paid just £5.76 per hour. 

£60m is still on the table - Hancock

Mr Hancock say the Government is putting together a "comprehensive support package" for places in local lockdown, including in Manchester.

Greater Manchester will receive £22m for its local authorities to implement and enforce the restrictions, he says.

But that doesn't include any specific support for businesses.

The Government also made a "proportionate" offer of £60m to support businesses, but it was rejected.

"Of course, we don't want businesses in Greater Manchester to be disadvantaged, so that offer remains on the table," he said.

The Health Secretary repeated Mr Johnson's line about the Government's door being open to more discussions.

'Perilous threat' of the virus continues to rage across Europe, says Hancock

Matt Hancock says coronavirus remains a "perilous threat", across Europe and in the UK.

Weekly deaths in the UK are now at their highest level since the start of July, and the virus is now making its way into the older age groups, who are more at risk, he said.

"Coronavirus is not a short term problem that could easily be fixed. It requires difficult decisions in difficult times."

Mr Hancock says the Government has agreed local lockdowns with Merseyside and Lancashire.

But the Government is worried about Manchester, he says. There are more people in hospital beds in Manchester with Covid-19 than in the South West and South East combined.

Matt Hancock speaking in the House of Commons

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, is giving a statement to the House of Commons, which will be followed by a Labour response by Jon Ashworth.

You can watch it live at the top of this feed.

Burnham: Tier 3 lockdown will increase levels of poverty, homelessness and hardship

Here is Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, reacting to the imposition of Tier 3 lockdown rules.

Gove and Johnson 'hopeful' about Australia-style deal

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have expressed hopes of a successful Brexit transition period after speaking to 250 business leaders on Tuesday.

With the UK insisting it may need to leave the bloc on "Australian-style" trade terms, rather than a more comprehensive agreement, Mr Johnson insisted Britain would prosper outside the EU.

The Prime Minister said: "Our job is to create the platform for dynamic businesses such as yours to compete and to grow. But it is vital that everybody on this call takes seriously the need to get ready, because whatever happens - whether it's Canada or Australia - change is going to happen.

"There is a big opportunity for this country and we want to help all of you to seize that opportunity."

Mr Gove said: "I am hugely appreciative of the efforts that so many companies have made over the course of this year, both to help us deal with the Covid crisis and also to prepare for the end of the transition period.

"We know that this December 31 we will be leaving the customs union and single market come what may. It's in law, and it's a fact that the EU and UK accept as immoveable, and that means we need to make sure we're ready."

JVT does not support a national circuit breaker

JVT, the DCMO Credit: Pool Getty/Leon Neal

Let's go back to an interesting answer from Jonathan Van-Tam in that press conference.

The Deputy CMO said he does not currently support a nationwide "circuit-breaker" to curb the spread of the virus, borrowing some of the PM's imagery about "walking a fine line" between economic and viral destruction.

"In areas where it is out of control hard measures are needed.

"But do I think right now it is appropriate to insist on those similar hard measures in, for example, the South West of England or Kent, where levels of the disease are very, very much lower than in the North of England - the national firebreak you talked about? No, I don't think that is right.

"I don't think that is consistent with the epidemiological picture that we are seeing."

This is interesting because we know that at the end of September, Sage (the Government's pandemic advisory committee) did recommend a nationwide "circuit breaker", alongside a raft of other measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

Prof Van-Tam sits on Sage alongside his boss, Prof Chris Whitty.

Since the rate of infection across the country has increased since the Sage paper last month, JVT's words this evening rather suggest some division between him and his Sage colleagues.

We won't find out what the current Sage advice is for some weeks yet.

Can Andy Burnham still get the £60m?

Not seeing eye to eye: Burnham and Johnson Credit: AFP

This row over funding for businesses has become the centre of the story about Manchester entering Tier 3.

Here's what we know about it.

  • Andy Burnham asked Downing Street for £65m in additional funding to be given to businesses in Manchester, which he said was the minimum needed to avoid a “winter of real hardship” under Tier 3 restrictions.
  • Downing Street said £65m for Manchester would have been "out of kilter" with the size of business support given to Merseyside and Lancashire, and walked away from negotiations.
  • Now Manchester is entering Tier 3 against the wishes of the mayor, without any funding package at all.
  • No10 says the £60m is still on the table, but Burnham must agree to receive it - and no more.

No funding agreed yet with Greater Manchester

The PM is asked how much business support spending Manchester will receive.

Mr Johnson says Downing Street's "door remains open" but needs any business support spending to be in line with other packages offered to Merseyside and Lancashire.

So none yet, then.

Boris Johnson: I am sorry we had to do this

Boris Johnson is asked whether he has visited Greater Manchester to see the effect of lockdown measures, and will he apologise?

"I am deeply sorry that it is necessary to put these measures in place," he says.

"Nobody wants to enact measures like this. I do think that there has been some simplification thanks to the tiering system, so that's a good thing."

Manchester will not receive additional business support yet - Johnson

Boris Johnson is asked again whether Greater Manchester will receive the £60m the Government offered for business support.

"Obviously we want to do more...but for the sake of fairness the deal has to be in line with the deals we have reached with Lancashire and Merseyside, where we have made progress."

He says businesses have received payments from local authorities already.

"We had to act today...in order to protect health and save lives."

Answers on a postcard - how much money is Manchester going to receive? Mr Johnson suggests the argument between Burnham's HQ and Downing Street is ongoing.

He does clarify a point made by the next journalist though -  the £22m he mentioned earlier is not the same as the £60m in the offer to Manchester by No10.

So it does appear there is no extra business spending agreed - yet.

Boris Johnson: I will not rule out national lockdown (but I don't want one)

Boris Johnson says he will "rule nothing out" when challenged with why he has not introduced a stricter, national-level lockdown like Northern Ireland and Wales.

The infection rates in both of those countries is lower than in the UK as a whole and in many parts of England, a journalist notes.

Mr Johnson stresses that he does not want another full lockdown.

Jonathan Van Tam sounds more hawkish. He says the Government must take "as tough measures as are necessary" to prevent the overwhelming of the NHS.

He stresses again that there is a lag time of two or three weeks before Downing Street will see the effect of any measures it takes.

"We can't take the brake off on this, and we might have to push the pedal a little harder to keep it under control."

Manchester could be at April peak levels by start of November

Jonathan Van Tam says there is a two week delay between the implementation of new rules like the ones imposed on Manchester, and the visible effect on the data. That's because there is:

  1. Five days of incubation period
  2. Five to seven days of symptoms before people go to hospital
  3. Some time in normal wards before they are admitted to ICU

The number of patients in hospitals in Greater Manchester has risen from 330 to 620 in two weeks.

In another two weeks, if the doubling rate remained 14 days, we would see 1,200 people in hospital,  he says.

That is the same level as the peak in April, he says.

Discussions will continue on support for Manchester - PM

Did Boris Johnson make an example of Manchester? Credit:  Leon Neal /PA

Mr Johnson is asked what sized business support package Manchester will receive, and whether Manchester is being made an example of.

The PM suggests that there is no new business support, but that discussions will continue with the Mayor.

"We wanted a deal - that was the best way forward. We have had to take action because of the urgency of the situation.

"I have described some of the funds that are already on the table. Other discussions undoubtedly will continue.

"We've already provided £196m of additional funding to authorities in Greater Manchester," he says, plus some other funding.

"We don't want to do this in the way that we have had to. Obviously we are going to still talk to Andy Burnham and his teams."

How much money is Manchester getting from the Government?

There seems to be some confusion over how much money the Government is giving Greater Manchester.

It was revealed earlier that they offered £60m to Andy Burnham to reach a deal. But now it seems they will only get £22m, plus access to what Boris Johnson calls "all kinds of funds". 

Downing Street is briefing that it is not true that they will only get £22m - Mr Johnson is saying it would have been "out of kilter" to give the city more than Lancashire received.

It's quite extraordinary that there seems to have been little communication between No10 and Manchester in preparation for this press conference.

Andy Burnham finished his own press briefing just a few minutes before Mr Johnson's started.

Northern Labour MPs are not happy about that.

I regret that an agreement was not reached - Johnson

Boris Johnson has said he "regrets" that an agreement was not reached with Andy Burnham over the "proportionate" offer he made to keep its businesses running.

Mr Johnson says the Govermment has made available £465m to help local authorities implement the regulations, and Greater Manchester will receive £22m of that.

"We will work with local authorities, including Greater Manchester, to allocate testing and introduce local contact tracing," he said.

"Over the last ten days, we've tried to get an approach with local leaders in Greater Manchester. 

"Unfortunately agreement wasn't reached. I do regret this as it would have been better, and we would have a better chance of defeating the virus if we work together.

"In addition I must say to the support outlined above, we made a generous and extensive offer to support Manchester's businesses."

Mr Johnson says the offer was "proportionate" to the offer made to Lancashire, and the Government now needs to move the city to Tier 3 without delay.

Johnson announces Manchester is moving to Tier 3

PA Video

Mr Johnson says he is announcing Greater Manchester is moving to the highest level, Tier 3.

He explains what that means - which we have done here 

On top of that, there will be further closures of casinos, bingo halls, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play centres will also close.

The regulations will be laid in Parliament on Thursday and will come into force at midnight, he says.

"No one wants to be putting these things into effect, but that's why we're also enacting a comprehensive package of support.

Mr Johnson cites the Job Support Scheme and Universal Credit, which will top up incomes to 80 per cent of normal levels, he says.

Heat map spells trouble for Greater Manchester

JVT shows the heat maps for the UK including Greater Manchester, which is likely to be a hot topic in today's briefing.

He says there are "very significant areas of heat across all of the ages" in some regions in Manchester.

This chart is quite complicated but worth getting your head around.

ICU rates are also increasing among the oldest age brackets

Jonathan Van Tam says it is the "penetration of the disease into older age groups that gives the NHS serious problems".

Showing another graph that demonstrates the most serious patients being admitted to intensive care, he says "the same very sharp rise" is visible in the oldest age brackets.

Spike among young is now transferred to older people, says JVT

Mr Van Tam says high rates of change among older people is concerning because older people are more likely to have symptoms, and are harder to save.

Meanwhile, a spike in case numbers among young people has now transferred to older people, and that will create a spike in hospitalisation rates, he says.

 He also shows a graph that shows those hospitalisation rates, showing increases in problematic areas.

The latest data with Jonathan Van Tam

Boris Johnson is joined at the podium by Stephen Powis from NHS England and Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Mr Johnson says the countries around the world that are dealing with the pandemic best are those that have adopted local measures.

He invites Van Tam to show some data slides on the latest figures from regions that have high case rates, like Greater Manchester.

He says while the actual case numbers remain high in problem areas (see below), the rates of change in case numbers are more variable, especially between age brackets.

Boris Johnson to give Downing Street update

We're now going to pivot over to Downing Street, where Boris Johnson is giving an update on the Government's coronavirus strategy.

Watch the live stream of that at the top of the blog.

If you're just joining us now, you can watch the Andy Burnham press conference back here.

Manchester leaders twice thought Tier 3 deal was in the bag

he leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said local leaders twice thought they had an agreement with the Government on a financial support package, only to be let down.

"In the discussions we have had over the last couple of days we have thought twice they were going to be able to meet us in being able to support that package," he told a news conference with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

"Twice when it has got to the end of the day they have let us down and they are letting the people of Manchester down."

Sir Richard said they had still not seen anything in writing from the Government on what conditions it was seeking to attach to any additional funding.

"Even the money that they were talking about we still have no idea what conditions they would attach to that money," he said.

Tier 3 lockdown is 'pain without results', says Andy Burnham

The leaders of Greater Manchester have "done everything that was asked of us" but now that they need something from the Government "it isn't coming back the other way", says Andy Burnham. 

He points out that experts including the CMO Prof Chris Whitty and CSA Sir Patrick Vallance have warned they do not believe Tier 3 will bring cases down. 

This is "pain without the results", he says. "If you are going to do it, fully fund it."

Council leader Sir Richard Leese points out that the Government is "willing to spend billions of pounds on contracts like on Test and Trace, which don't work" but are "not willing to spend tens of millions of pounds" supporting people under restrictions in Manchester. 

"I fought with everything I've got," says Mr Burnham. 

He claimed the Government had not fully costed the effects of lockdown, adding it would be "an act of very bad faith" if the £60m was taken off the table. 

Government carried out 'deliberate act of levelling down', says Andy Burnham 

Andy Burnham has accused the Government of carrying out a "deliberate act of levelling down". 

He said the authorities were "asking people to do a big thing", saying "you cannot do that on the cheap". 

But there had been a change in approach from "whatever it takes" to "whatever we give you", he added. 

He said he had originally costed the Tier 3 restrictions at £90m but he "could not make it work" with what the Government had offered. It was not enough to "protect people from real hardship", he said.

"That was why the negotiations fell back, but the Government put £60m on the table - if they are taking it off, are they playing poker with places and people's lives in a pandemic? Are they piling pressure onto people to accept the lowest figure they can get away with?"

The Government said to people "they would level up, but what we have seen today is a deliberate act of levelling down," he added. "This is real now... for thousands of people in Greater Manchester." 

Observe the law at all times, Andy Burnham tells people of Manchester

Andy Burnham has urged the people of Manchester to follow the rules that are set to be imposed today, warning that "tough days lie ahead". 

He told the 2.8 citizens of the region to "observe the law at all times and follow the public health advice."

The Greater Manchester Mayor added: "Above all, look out for each other."

Parliament must intervene to set framework for support, says Andy Burnham 

The Government will "crush the [people's] spirit" if they do not agree better support, Andy Burnham has said. 

"I don't believe we can proceed as a country on this basis, by grinding communities down through punishing negotiations," he adds.

He said he would "now look to Parliament to intervene and make a judgement", calling for a "fair financial framework for Tier 3 lockdown". 

The Greater Manchester mayor stressed it was not just about his region, saying "all parts of the country might find themselves in Tier 3 lockdown."

Government rejected £15m a month estimate to support Manchester through Tier 3, says Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham says the 10 boroughs estimated that the cost of Tier 3 restrictions would be £15m a month, recognising that those on the lowest incomes cannot survive on two-thirds. 

He says they were prepared to reduce that to £75m for the rest of the year, and prepared to "go even lower - to £65m - to prevent a winter of real hardship here". 

That was "not what we wanted - it was what we needed" he said. 

But the Government refused to accept this and "and at two o'clock today they walked away", he said - stressing they. 

"Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms they offered today, because I could not meet my commitment to the people on the lowest pay," he adds. 

Manchester 'has never walked on by and it never will', says Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham has started his press conference with Manchester council leader Sir Richard Leese and others from Stockport, Bolton and elsewhere. 

He says this reflects the "unity" of the 10 councils. 

The Mayor notes that people in Manchester have lived under restrictions for three months which have taken "a heavy toll" and to accept further restrictions "would be certain to increase poverty". 

He adds: "Let's be clear who is affected most by a Tier 3 lockdown... those who are too often forgotten by those in power. 

"But this city has never walked on by and it never will," he adds, saying leaders will "do what is right". 

Labour frontbencher 'bewildered' by Manchester talks collapse

A Labour frontbencher has said he is "absolutely bewildered by the breakdown of talks" between ministers and the leaders of Greater Manchester today. 

"The sums of money being reported sound entirely inconsistent with the packages offered to other parts of the country," said Jonathan Reynolds, the work and pensions shadow secretary and MP for Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale & Dukinfield.

"There is agreement than further health restrictions are required. This is about the support package," he added. 

"Andy Burnham is right to fight for jobs and livelihoods."

Lords warned over 'reputational damage' from Brexit bill

The UK Internal Market Bill will cause reputational damage and gives ministers the power to break the law, a former lord chief justice has said. 

During a debate on the controversial Brexit bill Lord True, a Cabinet Office minister, warned peers that blocking it would be "a heavy missile to launch at what is a profoundly delicate state of negotiations".

He added: "The rule of law is a great matter and the integrity of this Union is also a great matter. There is a balance to be struck in the context of these difficult times and proportion to be found.. What is potentially proposed is not an armed invasion of another nation, it is a contingent and potential power, subject to safeguards, which the Government has stated it hopes need never be invoked."

But Lord Judge, a former lord chief justice, who proposed the regret amendment which passed this afternoon, said: "The fact of the matter is the law would be broken. There can be no getting away from it.

"You don't have to be a lawyer to understand the rule of law. And you certainly don't have to be a lawyer to understand when you are giving powers away.

"You don't have to be a lawyer to understand the reputational damage to the United Kingdom. We cannot resile from the fact that we are breaking the law if this Bill is enacted."

Minister prods anti-UKIM archbishops over law-breaking creation of the Church of England

A Cabinet Office minister has made a dig at the group of archbishops who have been deeply critical of the UK Internal Market Bill.

The Archbishops of Canterbury, York, Wales and Armagh, along with the chief bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church, have claimed the bill presented a “moral” issue because of its threat to break international law by overriding parts of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord True said: "I did have some reflections during the course of the debate and at one point found myself asking if Henry VIII's foundation of the Church of England was fully in accord both with our domestic law and international obligations."

Lord True told peers: "We share a full and fundamental respect for and belief in the rule of law."

Defending the Government's "limited, contingent proposals" in the Bill, he added: "It does not accept that these safeguard provisions render our country, as has been claimed, an international pariah or justify, as was asserted, murderous actions by others. People are still talking to us."

More than 1,800 Manchester pubs at risk of closure from Tier 3 

Up to 1,809 pubs in Greater Manchester could be forced to close following the Government's decision to impose Tier 3 restrictions on the area, according to new data.

With the Liverpool City region and Lancashire also in the highest restricted status, it means the number of pubs hit is 3,967, according to property adviser Altus Group.

The Government restrictions in the North of England to help stop the spread of the coronavirus means the pubs can only remain open if a substantial meal is served.

Several other regions remain in Tier 2 status, affecting 12,500 pubs trading according to Government data.

At the beginning of October there were 37,616 pubs in England, excluding wine bars, meaning one in 10 of all English pubs are impacted, Altus Group said.

Tier 3 measures currently affect 1,031 pubs within the Liverpool City Region, 1,127 across Lancashire and now a further 1,809 in Greater Manchester, it added.

The 'sense of failure is overwhelming' after Manchester talks collapse, says Tory MP

The "sense of failure is overwhelming" after the collapse of talks around restrictions for Greater Manchester, a Conservative MP for the local area has said. 

William Wragg, the MP for Hazel Grove, said he would not comment "politically" until after hearing Matt Hancock speak this evening, from 7pm. 

"Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office," he added. 

Government's 'contempt' for local people led to collapse in Manchester talks, claims Keir Starmer

The collapse of talks between ministers and Greater Manchester leaders is "a sign of Government failure", caused by "contempt" for local people, the Labour leader has said. 

Talks have been called off without resolution after more than 10 days, meaning the region will now be unilaterally placed into Tier 3 restrictions. 

Sir Keir Starmer said: “The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

“Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

“Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

Andy Burnham to give press conference at 4pm

Andy Burnham has been deafening in his silence since the talks between him and the Government were called off earlier this afternoon. 

But the Mayor of Greater Manchester - nicknamed 'The King of the North' after a character in the TV series Game of Thrones following his intervention on the steps of the town hall last week - is due to give another press conference at 4pm today. 

Andy Burnham: Live from Manchester at 4pm Credit: Reuters 

Three-tiered system under pressure as Greater Manchester talks collapse

The collapse in talks between the Government and local leaders in Greater Manchester is threatening to undermine the entire three-tiered system. 

Clearly ministers need buy-in from local leaders, but taking up to two weeks to discuss a package with every region while coronavirus cases climb seems impractical at best. 

Last week we saw Liverpool's leaders erupt after they learned that Lancashire's gyms would not be added to Tier 3, putting them at variance with Merseyside, where they are. 

Lancashire leaders complained last week that they had been "bullied" into accepting terms, while leaders of areas not under Tier 3 restrictions have said they will tell ministers to "sod off". 

And that is even before you get involved in the tense discussions around financial packages - or the 28-day sunset clause, which means the whole thing will have to start again next month. 

Exclusive: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier 'expected in London on Thursday'

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is mulling a surprise visit to London amid cautious optimism of a breakthrough on the talks, Christopher Hope and James Crisp write.

The visit would be the most tangible signal that the optimism of the past 24 hours could lead to a trade deal between the UK and EU.

Sources have told The Telegraph in London and Brussels that Mr Barnier is considering a trip to London on Thursday.

One senior UK Government source said ministers were "hoping to hear more from the EU" before the end of this week. A second source said Mr Barnier could be in London on Thursday.

A Brussels source added that Mr Barnier could come on Thursday but "it is not confirmed".

However a UK Government source added: "He is welcome to come here. But there are no talks going on."

Lords defeat Government over symbollic vote on Brexit bill 

Peers have inflicted a heavy defeat against the Government's controversial Brexit legislation that enables ministers to break international law.

The House of Lords backed by 395 votes to 169, majority 226, a "regret" amendment, condemning the disputed provisions in the UK Internal Market Bill.

This is a symbollic vote, but one that sets the stage for future votes on this bill when it reaches the report stage for amendments in mid-November - if it is still required by then. 

Money, money, money: Why did the Manchester talks collapse?

Both sides of the increasingly tense talks about Greater Manchester's lockdown have insisted that it did not come down to money. 

But that is exactly what it did come down to, with some reports suggesting it was a matter of £5-10 million. 

Lucy Powell, the Labour MP for Manchester  wrote on Twitter: "Just for some context, the money the Treasury recently clawed back from GM in business cash grants from March/April lockdown stands at £88 million.

"So Government TOOK BACK £88m in Covid business support but now won't give less than this to support GM businesses now."

She claimed the Government "clearly doesn't really care about supporting businesses and protecting jobs AND protecting health because they are prepared to cause huge breakdown over £5m (a tiny fraction of what they've spent elsewhere)".

"This is politics at its worst, not public health."

UK's 'prevarication' led to 'much more virus' around the country, MPs told

Countries like the UK which "prevaricated" over responding to Covid-19 face dealing with "much more virus" in their communities, MPs have been told. 

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, said without action "the size of an outbreak doubles every two and a half days".

"That means that if you delay, say, two weeks before you take robust action to deal with an outbreak, you've got an awful lot of virus in your communities," he explained. "If you delay three or four weeks, the size of your outbreak can increase a thousand times."

Dr Nabarro said: "Countries that prevaricated a bit as the virus started coming in have got much more virus around in their societies, much opportunity for spreading events to take place, than countries which move incredibly quickly."

He added: "That, I'm afraid, is the problem that the UK and the United States and several other countries have got because they just did not get on top of it as quickly as others like New Zealand famously, but also like China."

Matt Hancock to give Commons statement at 7pm

Boris Johnson is giving a press conference at 5pm today - but if that weren't enough, Matt Hancock is going to give a statement to the House at 7pm. 

This was not on the order paper this morning, which suggests it could be significant - although it could be a case of the Health Secretary setting out the Tier 3 restrictions for Greater Manchester.

Europe finding it 'stunningly difficult' to adapt behaviour to Covid, says WHO special envoy

European societies are struggling to adopt behavioural changes required to deal with coronavirus, MPs have been told. 

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19, said it was "stunningly difficult" for some people to adapt to new ways of interacting, noting that in Europe the adoption of masks and physical distancing in western Europe were still only around the "60 per cent to 70 per cent mark".

"It's not bad, if we could get it up to 90% it would make a huge difference to the rate at which Covid is spreading through society," he said.

Dr Nabarro told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: "The last time we had to do a big behaviour change because a new infectious agent came along was when HIV appeared and starting causing Aids, and it took many years for societies to come to terms with the reality that sex could be associated with death."

Dr Nabarro added: "We've got the same situation now, a new virus has come along, behaviour has to change and people find it stunningly difficult to take it on board."

"That might mean, if we could get it up, that the necessity for top-down restrictions on behaviour would greatly diminish."

MPs postpone business rates revaluation to 2023

MPs have agreed to postpone the next business rates revaluation for England and Wales until April 1 2023.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) (No 2) Bill, which was unanimously approved by MPs without division, also moves the latest date for publishing the draft rating list from September 30 to December 31 in the year before the revaluation.

Local Government Minister Luke Hall described the legislation as "important" and "common sense".

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said that, while Labour supports the Bill, there needs to be a wider reform of business rates.

He added that there is an "unfair" geographical disparity in business rates across the UK.

Mr Hall told MPs: "We are now familiar with the two improvements this Bill makes to the business rates system.

"It moves the date for implementation of the next re-evaluation in England and Wales to 1 April 2023 and it also moves the latest date by which draft rateable values must be prepared in England and Wales to 31 December, preceding revaluation."

He added: "We believe that this Bill is an important, small Bill."

Coronavirus is 'not going to go away', says WHO special envoy

Coronavirus "is not going to go away", the World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19 has told MPs. 

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Dr David Nabarro said the virus was "by and large much more stable than many other viruses that we deal with".

"So we're basically saying, my colleagues and I, just recognise that we as humanity are going to have to live with this virus for the foreseeable future," he added. 

"Living with the virus means holding it at bay, it doesn't mean letting it come and infect anybody and not worrying about it.

"The talk about herd immunity as a strategy is not viable, it's not ethical, it's not based on anything that we've ever done before.

"We encourage everybody to just put that one on the side, we may change our advice, but right now that's not the advice."

Manchester deadline 'came and went and has been extended', says Sir Graham Brady

The midday deadline for an agreement on new restrictions in Greater Manchester appeared to have been extended, Sir Graham Brady has said. 

The MP for Altrincham and Sale West, who is also chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, said it would be "very unfortunate" if Tier 3 controls were imposed without agreement.

"My understanding is that the deadline at noon came and went, and has effectively been extended," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"As far as I can tell the sticking point between the Greater Manchester council leaders and the mayor and the Government is really just about money now," he added. "I suspect this will end up coming down to a question of whether a sufficient compensation package can be agreed or not.

"I think it is more likely than not that there will be an agreement reached. I think it would be very unfortunate if in the absence of an agreement a settlement was imposed on Greater Manchester."

Sir Graham Brady said he thought a deal would probably be reached Credit: PA

Scotland could face new tiered system from November, says Nicola Sturgeon 

Scotland will face a new tiered system of lockdown restrictions will come into force from November 2 if approved at Holyrood next week, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon warned that some areas may face stricter measures than those currently in force in the central belt, where licensed hospitality venues have been temporarily closed.

The Cabinet will decide if these restrictions, brought in on October 9 to stem a rise in cases and due to end on October 26, will be extended until the implementation of the tiered framework.

The First Minister set out the timeline for the decisions as she announced 15 coronavirus deaths and 1,456 positive cases were recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

She told the briefing the new measures in the tiered framework, if approved by MSPs, will come into effect on November 2 - aligning with the UK Government's new furlough scheme.

A member of the public walks past a TV screen with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Credit: PA

Scrap pub curfew while hospitality copes with Tier 2 controls, says London Mayor 

The Mayor of London has called for the 10pm curfew in the city to be scrapped to help restaurants deal with Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

Sadiq Khan said allowing businesses to stay open past 10pm will boost cashflow by allowing restaurants to increase their bookings throughout the evening, particularly while London's hospitality firms are trading under restrictions banning household mixing.  

In a statement, Mr Khan said: "Immediately scrapping the 10pm curfew would allow more sittings of single households in restaurants throughout the evening, helping with cashflow at a time when venues need all the support they can get."

He added: "The Government still haven't got a grip on this virus and provided a functioning test and trace system."

And he said ministers should give businesses  "access to a proper job retention scheme" akin to the furlough scheme.

Poorer countries have better Test and Trace - and it's why UK is on cusp of second lockdown, MPs hear

Poorer countries are implementing test and trace systems better than the UK - and this is the reason why we are on the cusp of a second lockdown, MPs have been told. 

Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus said she did not understand how countries such as Vietnam and Senegal were able to return test results rapidly but "we're not able to do that in the UK".

Prof Sridhar added: "There is something fundamentally wrong here when we are needing to look at who is being given contracts to deliver what and with what expertise, because it is public taxpayer money that is being spent.

"We are going into another lockdown because that Test and Trace system is not working, and it's not because we are not putting enough money in."

"It's not about lack of money here, countries that are far poorer are doing better on it."

Rising number of local restrictions 'national lockdown in all but name', MPs told 

The increasing number of local lockdowns is driving the country towards a national lockdown in all but name, a public health expert has suggested.

Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health, University of Edinburgh, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that local lockdowns should be used to protect areas with low incidence of Covid-19 cases from those that have spikes.

Restrictions on movement should be introduced, accompanied by testing and tracing, she explained.

Prof Sridhar added: "I think the mistake has been that we're now seeing all over the country increases so all that's going to be is putting in more and more local restrictions until we basically have a national lockdown but we're just not calling it that."

Brexit: Both sides must compromise in talks, says European Commission

Both the EU and UK will need to compromise to reach a Brexit deal, Brussels has said, ahead of talks between Michel Barnier and David Frost.

A European Commission spokesman told a Brussels briefing: "I think it is pretty obvious that in order to come to an agreement both sides need to meet and this is also obviously the case in this negotiation."

A spokesman also confirmed that Mr Barnier and Lord Frost would speak on Tuesday afternoon.

It comes after the Government rebuffed a fresh attempt by the EU to restart the negotiations on a post-Brexit free trade deal agreement after they were abruptly halted by Boris Johnson.

Lobby latest: Talks with local leaders ongoing to 'create maximum possible consensus'

Talks are continuing with local leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber about further coronavirus restrictions, Downing Street has said.

"That is part of the effort that we are making to create the maximum possible consensus behind the more strict kinds of local intervention," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

The spokesman said under Tier 2 and 3 rules on household mixing people can still meet up for work meetings under certain circumstances.

"There is a specific exemption which says that people from different households can gather in indoor settings that are open for work purposes," the spokesman said.

"The reason that is there is that there are some people such as the self-employed and freelancers who may not have a workplace to conduct business meeting that need to take place face-to-face.

"We would encourage people to use alternatives to work meetings where possible."

Chancellor's support scheme has 'more holes than a Swiss cheese'

The Chancellor's employment support schemes "have more holes than a Swiss cheese", shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson has claimed.

During his regular question session, Rishi Sunak told MPs that "we will continue to do what it takes to protect this economy and people's livelihoods".

But Ms Phillipson said: "In March the Chancellor was clear that if people couldn't earn a living by going out to work it was the Government's job to step in, whatever it takes.

"By July he was moving away from that belief and today he has moved so far that his employment support schemes have more holes than a Swiss cheese. Can he tell the House, was he wrong in March or is he wrong now?

Mr Sunak replied: "I did say we would do what it takes and I think £200 billion later and almost nine million jobs protected is evidence that we have done and we will continue to do what it takes to protect this economy and people's livelihoods."

Lobby latest: David Frost to talk to Michel Barnier again by phone

Boris Johnson's Europe adviser Lord Frost will speak to the European Union's Michel Barnier again on Tuesday as efforts continue to revive trade talks.

Talks were called off on Friday, and Mr Barnier's trip to London this week cancelled, although the pair spoke via the phone yesterday. 

That conversation yielded a promise from the EU's negotiator that he would put everything on the table in a bid to intensify negotiations, including the legal texts.

This morning the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "What the UK's chief negotiator needs to see is a clear assurance from the EU that it has made a fundamental change in approach to the talks and that this is going to be a genuine negotiation rather than one side being expected to make all of the moves."

David Frost: Hanging on the telephone Credit: Reuters 

Lobby latest: Boris Johnson to hold press conference today 

Boris Johnson is to hold a press conference when he is expected to set out the Government's next steps in relation to coronavirus controls in Greater Manchester, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said talks had continued on Tuesday morning at official level ahead of the Government's midday deadline for an agreement on the introduction of Tier 3 controls in the region.

Mr Johnson has also spoken directly to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following the passing of the deadline.

"The talks have been ongoing this morning. I am not in a position to confirm how that has been resolved," the spokesman said.

The press conference will take place at 5pm on Tuesday.

Have your say on: The three-tiered system

Boris Johnson announced his long-awaited traffic lights system for dealing with coronavirus cases last week - but today they it was branded the "worst of all worlds".  

The three tiers are designed to allow the Government to impose tighter restrictions in areas where cases are highest, while minimising the economic damage in other parts of the country. 

Just a few days after it was announced, ministers were forced to impose more restrictions on much of the country, including London and Essex, which have been added to Tier 2, while Lancashire was added to Tier 3 - despite the Prime Minister promising there would be no further changes that week. 

Meanwhile talks with Greater Manchester's leaders have run on for 10 days - undermining the Government's power to act nimbly. 

Labour are calling for a short-term circuit breaker instead - but critics fear this is the thin end of the wedge. So what should be done? Have your say in the poll below. 

Government's three-tiered system 'worst of all worlds', MPs told

Boris Johnson's three-tiered coronavirus restrictions system is "the worst of all worlds", MPs have been told. 

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus that the three-tier approach was a "good idea in principle" if it provided clarity and equity.

However, Prof Reicher, who is also a member of Sage, said there was a lack of clarity over what criteria was being used to place areas in different tiers, with variations of measures even within certain tiers.

He said: "So we have the worst of all worlds, we have a system where there is no sense of clarity. There is a growing sense of inequity and resistance."

Prof Reicher warned if resistance was "politicised" it could risk bringing "polarisation", as seen in the United States.

He added: "A tier system isn't bad in and of itself, the way it's been applied I think has been disastrous and is leading to political paralysis when we need action really quickly because infections are spiking."

Support 'evolving' for businesses open 'in name only', suggests minister

A minister has signalled that there could be more support on offer for businesses who are "open in name only". 

Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Thamesmead and Erith, questioned what options were available for those firms in Tier 2, which are not legally required to close but cannot trade with any degree of normality. 

The newly promoted shadow Treasury minister told MPs: "In regions facing Tier 3 restrictions many businesses have been forced to close. In Tier 2 regions many businesses, especially in hospitality, are open in name only - running up all the costs without the customers.

"What does the Government have to say to those businesses which realistically cannot operate and are not legally required to close?"

Treasury Minister Jesse Norman replied: "Of course we are acutely aware of the financial costs on those businesses, as we are on businesses that have been forced to close.

"That is why we have put in place an evolving and comprehensive programme of support for business."

Extend VAT cut to businesses in Tier 3, says Tory MP

A Tory MP has called for reduced VAT rates to be extended further for hospitality businesses who face Tier 3 restrictions.

Mary Robinson, the Conservative MP for Cheadle, warned that Greater Manchester being moved into the highest set of restrictions "the hospitality sector in Cheadle faces the additional blow of Tier 3 restrictions".

She added: "Whilst reduced VAT in recent months is to be welcomed, businesses in Tier 3 will be unable to benefit from the extended scheme.

"Therefore, in addition to the comprehensive support package, will the minister consider extending the reduced VAT scheme further in areas that go into Tier 3 so that they can do business on that basis for as long as those businesses in other parts of the country?"

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman replied: "As she will know, it has already been extended and, as she will also be aware, we have put in place a scheme for people who have VAT debt in order to allow a payment process that fits their schedule."

Former minister urges Rishi Sunak not to 'balance the books' while businesses need support

A former minister has urged Rishi Sunak not to "balance the books" and to provide more support to businesses in Tier 1 who are still unable to open.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said: "It is not just businesses that are in Tiers 2 and 3 that have been impacted, in Tier 1 some sectors are still unable to trade - suffering from a total loss of business.

She asked Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, if he agreed with "the head of the IMF (The International Monetary Fund) that now is not the time to balance the books, and will he consider extending support to businesses that still cannot work in these times?"

But Mr Barclay said while he agreed that "the pressure on businesses" would grow, the existing package set out by the Chancellor would be sufficient to "help those businesses with their cash flow."

UK should have built 'robust' Test and Trace programme with 24-hour turnaround time, MPs told

The UK needed to have built a "robust" Test and Trace programme during the summer months, providing results within 24 hours, to avoid a second wave, MPs have been told. 

Turnaround times have improved for Covid tests carried out in-person in England, according to the most recent week of figures for the NHS Test and Trace service - but they are still dismally low.

Less than a third of the tests were turned around within 24 hours in the week ending 7 October, up from just over a quarter (27 per cent) from the previous week, but still below the peak of almost 90 per cent from the end of June.

Alice Wiseman, director of public health for Gateshead, told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: "What we needed to do during the summer months was have a really robust test and trace programme that provides testing responses within 24 hours and an ability to do that contact tracing.

"What we need to do now is get back to that position where we've slowed the spread down sufficiently so that we can live more of our normal life."

Local lockdowns a 'losing game', says public health expert

The UK is on to a "losing game" if it tries to use local lockdowns alone in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, a public health expert has said.

Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Devi Sridhar, professor and chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said using lockdowns are "a last-resort measure".

"I personally think that is a losing game because with this virus it is so infectious that if you try to rely on treating your way through it you'll be stuck in lockdown and release cycles."

She added: "The analogy for me is leaving your health services alone on the pitch as if they are the goalie and the rest of the field wide open."

Prof Sridhar said the way countries could be "winning" against the virus was through "strong suppression" and a "zero-Covid" approach seen in east Asia.

This included using test, trace and isolate, bringing in restrictions to limit flare-ups, border restrictions and clear messaging to the public.

Chancellor: Localised approach is best to avoid unnecessary pain

Rishi Sunak has insisted "a localised approach is the best approach" as he was quizzed about the Government's reluctance to deploy a circuit breaker. 

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor, told the Commons that research suggested "higher virus prevalence is associated with weaker economic", and could cost the UK an additional £110 billion, based on IMF figures, "due to changes people make to avoid contracting the virus and the knock-on impact of those on economic output".

But the Chancellor responded by saying Labour was seeking a "rolling programme of national lockdowns", which would be "enormously damaging". 

Local restrictions avoided "unnecessary pain and suffering where virus prevalence is low".

However, the Telegraph understands that Matt Hancock will tomorrow chair a Gold Command meeting to decide whether to adopt a circuit breaker this half term. 

Rishi Sunak rejects claim £8 per person support for Manchester is 'insufficient' 

Afzal Khan, the MP for Gorton, also accused Rishi Sunak of putting up "insufficient support" noting that the £8 a head being offered to Greater Manchester is half what has been offered to other areas. 

He asks if the Chancellor wants to apologise to those who have already lost their jobs. 

But Mr Sunak says the "national funding formula" for all regions entering Tier 3 is £8, saying it has been "done on an equitable basis" for all regions. 

Additional funding remains available to Greater Manchester, "which is why I hope they engage with these conversations constructively", he added. 

Rishi Sunak hits back as Labour claim Government 'hates Greater Manchester'

The Chancellor is coming under pressure to cough up more cash for Greater Manchester during regular Treasury questions. 

A livid Andrew Gwynne argued that the lowest-paid could not afford to survive on what was being offered, noting that the entire region had been offered £22m by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick "less than the £25m he granted to his own town centre". 

"Why does this Government hate Greater Manchester?" he fumed. 

Rishi Sunak said the MP's tone was "disappointing", stressing that Manchester was being "treated exactly the same as every part of our United Kingdom". 

He said talks had been taking place in a constructive spirit, and that conversations "happening as we speak".

Cases in Newcastle 'plateaued or are falling', says local mayor

Coronavirus cases have "plateaued or are falling" in Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland, since leaders successfully argued against entering the Tier 3 restrictions, the region's mayor has said.  

However local leaders are still expecting to hold discussions about next steps. 

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor for the North of Tyne, said: "We are expecting to meet with Government ministers and officials later this week, but nothing is in the diary and we have had no contact since Friday.

"Last week we talked through their data, and our data, epidemiology, NHS capacity and public health interventions. They accepted there was no case for moving into Tier 3."

He added: "The latest evidence is that, across our region, case rates have plateaued or are falling.

"I want to say a thank you to the public for following the law and the guidelines, and staying safe."

Parents don't like free school meals label, claims minister

Parents prefer to pay a "modest amount" for children's food at a holiday club rather than have the label of a free school meal, a Government minister has claimed.

Labour will tomorrow force a Commons vote on the extension of free school meals to eligible children after the Government refused to prolong the scheme through the October half-term break, despite yet another campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that research from a holiday club pilot scheme "demonstrates that families didn't just want the meals, although they valued the meals, they didn't like the labelling of them being free, they actually prefer to pay a modest amount, £1 or £2, but they valued the additional focus on exercise and on reading fun books and so on through the holiday".

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: "We gave the Prime Minister the chance to change course, but he refused to do so. Now his MPs must decide if they want to vote for their constituents to get this vital support or if they will leave families struggling to put food on the table."

Nadhim Zawahi: Parents don't like the label of free school meals Credit: Julian Simmonds

Starmer calls on Tory MPs to back Marcus Rashford on free school meals

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Tory MPs to back Marcus Rashford's call to extend free school meals over the holidays.

The England footballer is currently calling for free school meals over the October half-term break, having successfully won his campaign for free school meals over the summer. 

Rishi Sunak 'responding to pandemic on the cheap', claims Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham has accused the Chancellor of "trying to penny pinch" and "responding to the pandemic on the cheap" as the Mayor of Greater Manchester gears up for a last push to get funds to support the region's Tier 3 restrictions.

Local leaders were sent a "provocative" letter last night, with an ultimatum that they must agree a deal by noon or face restrictions being imposed unilaterally. 

But Mr Burnham claimed ministers were still not addressing concerns about those on low incomes and the self-employed, warning that without better support a mental health crisis would follow hot on the heels. 

He took particular aim at Rishi Sunak for his "abrupt change since the summer", warning that local lockdowns were already "divisive by their nature" and would end up "levelling down" the North.

"But this isn’t just Greater Manchester's problem - everywhere could end up in Tier 3 over the winter," he added. "If they impose a punishing lockdown over winter, it will be poorest people who suffer the most."

Local leaders would respond to the Government's letter with one of their own, adding: "If the Prime Minister wants to call me I will always speak to him."

Theresa May’s reaction to Michael Gove's Brexit claim was spectacular

When she was prime minister, Theresa May was rarely interesting to listen to – but she was always fascinating to watch.

This was because she had such a spectacularly expressive face. Whenever she disagreed with what she was hearing, her face would contort itself into the most extraordinary winces and frowns and grimaces. Her features would writhe and twist and squirm, as if her underwear were made of steel wool, or swarming with red ants. 

Now that Mrs May is a mere backbench MP, we sadly see rather less of her facial gymnastics. On Monday afternoon  in the Commons, however, we were treated to a special performance – and it was up there with her very best.

Citizens Advice calls on Government for more Tier 3 financial support 

A fresh package of support measures is needed to prevent households placed under tougher coronavirus restrictions from sinking further into debt, according to Citizens Advice.

The charity said the enforcement of council tax arrears should be paused in Tier 3 areas in England alongside extra funding to support those who are behind.

Citizens Advice also wants to see a national programme of Government-backed grants and loans for private sector tenants struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic.

Jamie McGlynn, local service manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, said: "Now that many of the protections have been lifted, we're seeing a surge in people contacting us for help as bailiffs, debt letters and eviction notices start up again.

"Added to that, there have been a lot of redundancies announced in recent weeks and many people we help are working reduced hours because of the impact of the first lockdown."

Recent research from Citizens Advice suggested significant numbers of people risk being pushed into a position where they cannot pay their essential bills and could face spiralling debts if the uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit is not extended beyond April 2021.

Have your say on: The three-tiered system

Boris Johnson announced his long-awaited traffic lights system for dealing with coronavirus cases last week. 

The three tiers are designed to allow the Government to impose tighter restrictions in areas where cases are highest, while minimising the economic damage in other parts of the country. 

Just a few days after it was announced, ministers were forced to impose more restrictions on much of the country, including London and Essex, which have been added to Tier 2, while Lancashire was added to Tier 3 - despite the Prime Minister promising there would be no further changes that week. 

Meanwhile talks with Greater Manchester's leaders have run on for 10 days - undermining the Government's power to act nimbly. 

Labour are calling for a short-term circuit breaker instead - but critics fear this is the thin end of the wedge. So what should be done? Have your say in the poll below. 

Nottingham braced for Tier 3 talks with ministers

Nottingham City Council is bracing for negotiations with the Government this week about imposing Tier 3 restrictions on the region, as rates continue to rise. 

Nottingham has the highest number of weekly coronavirus cases in the country - but that the rapid increase in infections has slowed down. Some 2,368 new cases were recorded in the seven days to October 15 – the equivalent of 711.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Leader councillor David Mellen said: "I am expecting to meet with Government this week as they consider whether we should be placed under Tier 3 restrictions.

"I will make it clear that we want a package that properly protects local people, businesses, jobs and education, whether it's for Tier 2 or Tier 3, and will need to speak to the Government first about the details of this.

"However, we have not waited for the Government to act against rising Covid cases in the city - almost a week before government finally placed us in Tier 2 we issued clear advice about not mixing indoors with people from other households unless they are in your support bubble.

"This week once again we are taking the lead and are writing to supermarkets to ask them to reinstate an allocated hour for older and vulnerable people. We are considering other community facilities where this could also be reintroduced."

Free School Meals II: Government set for another battle with Marcus Rashford (MBE)

Marcus Rashford was given an MBE last month for his free school meals campaign before the summer holiday. 

So it is somewhat baffling that ministers are rebuffing the England footballer's calls for exactly the same support during the week-long October half term. 

Asked about it this morning, Nadhim Zahawi paid tribute to the England footballer's original campaign, but insisted: "It’s not as simple as just writing a massive cheque for free school meals.”

"We have put a very large amount of resource into both free school meals in the holidays and activities," he told Times Radio. "We are providing other help to families including the £9 billion uplift from Universal Credit."

The business minister didn't exactly rule out a U-turn - which is just as well because Mr Rashford is amassing support among MPs. 

Covid deaths rise for fifth week in a row

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 registered in England and Wales has risen for the fifth week in a row.

A total of 438 deaths registered in the week ending October 9 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from 321 deaths in the week to October 2 and the highest number of registered deaths involving Covid-19 since the week ending July 3.

Just over 59,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.

William Hague: Depriving young people of the great outdoors is an utter tragedy

The benefits to the human brain of the outdoors and nature have always been apparent, but are now recognised by science.

A recent study supported by the University of Exeter Medical School found “strong and consistent benefits for mental health and well-being … from exposure to natural environments”. It found that socio-economic inequality in mental well- being “has been shown to be narrower among those who report good access to green or recreational areas”.

A reasonable person might therefore imagine that we could at least try to combat the massive risks of rising mental health problems and educational inequality in lockdowns by getting more young people out into that great outdoors. 

The horrifying fact, writes William Hague, is that we have been doing the exact opposite.

Wales 'shortest possible' firebreak to protect mental health, says Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government decided to go for the "shortest possible" lockdown partly to reduce the impact on people's mental health.

"It is a very difficult time indeed and it's why, in the end, we decided to go for the shortest possible period of a firebreak - a two-week period," the First Minister  told BBC Breakfast. 

"But if you're doing it short, you've got to do it deep. There's a trade-off there," he added. "We could have gone for a longer period with slightly fewer restrictions but, in the end, the advice to us - partly because of the impact on people's mental health - was that if you could keep this period of time as short as you could, that would help to mitigate that impact."

Under the "firebreak" lockdown, single adult households are able to form an alliance with one other household to address the feelings of "loneliness and isolation", Mr Drakeford added.

Variation in Wales' Covid cases 'narrowing', says Mark Drakeford

The gap between low and high incidence areas of Wales has been "narrowing" over the past 10 days, Mark Drakeford has said.

The First Minister yesterday confirmed a two-week "firebreak" will run from this Friday until November 9, and would be "short but very sharp". The UK Government has insisted it will not impose similar restrictions because of the wide variations in England. 

But Mr Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: "I'm afraid if we don't take action, it's only a matter of time before even Ceredigion begins to feel the impact of the rising tide.

"In places like Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, they are rural areas of Wales. Their hospitals are small. Even a modest rise in coronavirus cases in those parts of Wales will put the health service under real pressure.

"Other parts of Wales have worked very hard to help protect those parts of Wales where the virus has continued to be suppressed. This is the moment when we need a genuine national effort, all areas of Wales, all citizens of Wales, as part of one great national endeavour."

Ministers will be told to 'sod off' if they try impose Tier 3 on Hartlepool, says council leader

It is not just leaders in Manchester that are causing headaches in Westminster - the council leader of another town has said anyone suggesting his town enter Tier 3 restrictions will be told to "sod off".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night that talks were planned this week with South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.

But Hartlepool Borough Council leader Shane Moore tweeted:  

Asked if Hartlepool will be placed in Tier 3 next week, Mr Moore replied on Twitter: "Not unless I am presented with clear evidence that the current restrictions are not working and that serious hospital admissions are causing strain on local health services."

Ben Houchen, the Tory elected mayor for Tees Valley, said he had received a reassurance there were no plans to put them in Tier 3.

Government has offered £22m to Manchester, says minister

The Government has offered £22 million to Greater Manchester in a bid to agree restrictions before intensive care units are overwhelmed, Nadhim Zahawi has said. 

The business minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have said to Andy and other local leaders that we will put £22 million into help for Greater Manchester, £8 per capita."

There would also be "additional support commensurate with what we have done in Liverpool City Region and in Lancashire".

 "We have been negotiating in good faith for 10 days with Andy Burnham and other local leaders in Greater Manchester.

"By the first week of November, if the trajectory continues at the rate it is at the moment, they will run out of ICU capacity in Greater Manchester. That is something we should both focus on, set politics aside."

This claim is rejected by local leaders, who have argued that ICU rates are at their usual level for this point in the autumn. 

Why is Rishi Sunak holding out on cash for Manchester? 

A few months back Rishi Sunak told the Commons he was going to do "whatever it takes" to get the country through the pandemic. Fast-forward to today, and the Chancellor is taking a rather more selective approach. 

One argument is that, having run for eight months already, the furlough has cost the country a small fortune. The other argument is that we have no real idea how long it is going to last. 

Tier 3 restrictions have a 28-day sunset clause on them, but given how long local restrictions have lasted it is safe to say any belief they will end in a month is a minority view. 

In fact, as MEN's politics editor Jen Williams points out below, they could last for the next six months. 

Andy Burnham: I am absolutely certain we have done the right thing

Andy Burnham will not stand down as the Mayor of Greater Manchester if the Government imposes Tier 3 restrictions on the region unilaterally, he has said. 

Asked if he would consider his position, the Labour politician told Sky News: "I will always consider what I have done. But at no point do I think I've acted in the wrong way here."

Mr Burnham added: "In my own mind, I feel I've done what I should do in the role that I hold."

He said he was "absolutely certain in my mind we have done the right thing."

Andy Burnham has been GM Mayor since 2017 Credit: PA

EU 'playing lip service' to UK sovereignty, claims minister

The European Union is still "playing lip service" to the UK's newfound sovereignty, a minister has claimed. 

Yesterday Michael Gove hailed a breakthrough in the stand-off over Brexit trade talks, after Michel Barnier agreed to talks across all subjects in the negotiations, and crucially to discuss "legal texts" for a deal, following a phone call with his counterpart David Frost. 

This morning Nadhim Zahawi, the business minister, said they wanted a deal, but were still sceptical about the EU's intentions, saying negotiators are still "not treating us as an equal".

He told Sky News: "We are trying to get a deal.

"What we have said is if you intensify them... [But talks won't happen] until you make it very clear you are willing to negotiate with us as an equal, a sovereign.

"There is no point paying lip service," he added. "They don't accept principle that the UK has left the EU and is now sovereign."

Government will 'lose public support' when it needs it most if Tier 3 imposed unilaterally, Burnham warns

The Government will "lose the public support" that it needs to get through the coming winter if ministers impose Tier 3 restrictions on Manchester unilaterally, Andy Burnham has warned. 

The Mayor of Greater Manchester stressed that he was still hoping to work constructively, noting there were "grounds for hope" in the form of a "reference for potential support" within the late-night letter sending local leaders an ultimatum. 

They have until noon to reach an agreement, or restrictions will be imposed unilaterally. 

Mr Burnham told BBC Breakfast: "I'm coming along today to say I still want to work to try and get a resolution, but I just hope your viewers will understand that this is not about politics.

"I have the support of Conservative MPs here for what I am saying - it is not posturing."

But he warned the Government not to impose measures without their consent, warning: "If the Government is going to go down this route of imposing these punishing lockdowns on local areas, I think it will lose the public support that it will need to try and help us all as a country rise to the fight against this pandemic this winter."

Support lowest paid or risk 'mental health crisis on top of a pandemic', warns Manchester Mayor

Unless the lowest-paid people are supported when Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions are imposed, Greater Manchester faces a "mental health crisis on top of a pandemic", Andy Burnham has warned. 

The Greater Manchester Mayor said: : "Tier 3 lockdowns affect the lowest-paid people in society, people who work in pubs, people who drive taxis, people who work on the doors in pubs.

"These are the people that Westminster politicians traditionally ignore.

"We are not going to do that here. If you're going to impose a lockdown here, it's going to cause certain harm ... to all of the people that I've mentioned.

"That is why we have stood firm, because we don't believe we can consign our residents to hardship in that way."

He told Sky News: "If we go into a lockdown where we don't support people who are in the lowest-paid professions we will have a mental health crisis on top of a pandemic."

Andy Burnham: We won't break law, but is Tier 3 a wise thing to do?

Andy Burnham has said he would not "break the law" if the Government put the region into Tier 3 coronavirus measures - although questioned whether the restrictions are "wise".

The Greater Manchester Mayor suggested the Government's argument - that ICU beds would be overwhelmed without rapid action - was not accurate, saying "about 80 per cent of ICU is occupied, which is not unusual for this time of year."

But he stressed he was "not complacent" about the need for action. 

He told Sky News that if measures were imposed unilaterally that he would adhere to the rules. 

Mr Burnham said: "Of course we wouldn't break the law. We've never said that we would. We would obviously have to accept that decision, in the end it's the Government's prerogative.

"But I would say to them at this point are they sure that that is a wise thing to do?"

Shielding programme 'part of the solution' for Manchester, says Andy Burnham

Shielding the elderly and vulnerable people in Greater Manchester is "part of the solution" and should be "looked at seriously", Andy Burnham has said. 

The Mayor of Greater Manchester backed the argument, set out by Sir Richard Leese yesterday, who claimed that a shielding programme would cost £14m a month - relatively lower than the cost of a full-blown lockdown. 

"I have to say I am worried genuinely about the Tier 3 policy as it is developing because we have had briefings from very senior figures - the deputy chief medical officer - who said to us that for Tier 3 to have a chance you have to close a lot of things," Mr Burnham told the Today programme. 

"The trouble with the way that the Government are pursuing this at the moment is that they are not funding local areas to support people through the closure of lots of things within their community, and that is a major flaw at the heart of this Tier 3 strategy as it develops."

Greater Manchester Mayor attacks 'provocative' Tier 3 ultimatum 

Andy Burnham has criticised the Government's "provocative" ultimatum overnight, telling  local leaders they have until midday on Tuesday to agree to Tier 3 restrictions or face unilateral Government action.

The Greater Manchester Mayor told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The late-night ultimatum briefed to the media was a slightly provocative move ... but I'm going to try to be positive and respond, and see if we can find a way forward."

Mr Burnham continued: "The letter is odd in that it is both an ultimatum but it references potential additional support that could be given to us.

"The thing is we've never been given a figure for that additional support.

"What I'll be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the Government setting out what we think a fair figure is for that support, given we've been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here.

"The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people that we think are going to need to be supported in a Tier 3 lockdown."

Matt Hancock pictured breaking face mask rules

Downing Street has been forced to remind ministers to wear face masks after the Health Secretary was caught travelling in a chauffeur-driven car without one. 

Matt Hancock, who has been a keen advocate of face coverings, was spotted without a mask while travelling in a ministerial car to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on Monday. 

Number 10 has since reminded ministers that they must wear masks when travelling as passengers in cars, adding that masks were available in all ministerial cars.

Despite chauffeur-driven vehicles being exempt from rules that say passengers must wear masks in taxis and Ubers, the Prime Minister's spokesman said last month that Government cars were not classified as private hire vehicles.

Matt Hancock was pictured without a face mask in his ministerial car Credit: London News Pictures