Michael Gove has accused Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham of “posturing” and “political positioning” in refusing to accept strict new COVID-19 restrictions.
The government risked further inflaming tensions amid a stand-off with Mr Burnham over whether the region should be moved into the highest alert level of a new three-tier system for local lockdowns.
Mr Burnham has called for greater financial help for firms that would be affected by the move, which would see bars and pubs closed – and likely a number of other businesses.
Mr Gove told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “I want to reach an agreement with the political leadership in Greater Manchester. I want them to put aside for a moment some of the political positioning that they’ve indulged in and I want them to work with us in order to ensure that we save lives and protect the NHS.
“Instead of press conferences and posturing what we need is action to save people’s lives.”