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Sky News host Kay Burley repeatedly clashed with Nadhim Zahawi on TV this morning. Ms Burley took issue when the Business Minister boasted that the Government was doing more than its French counterparts in paying workers’ wages. The Sky News host grilled the Tory minister on claims that Greater Manchester will be placed under the harshest Tier 3 coronavirus measures when the row erupted.
Ms Burley said: “Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham fears parts of the north won’t emerge from Tier 3 measures until long into the winter.
“There are 20,000 employed in pubs, 20,000 taxi drivers, 63,000 in accommodation and food services, 32,000 jobs in arts and entertainment.
“That is why Burnham doesn’t want to go into Tier 3. You’re saying, tough, we will do it anyway.”
Mr Zahawi responded: “No we are not. What we are saying is we have got a package of £200billion, in effect putting our arms around the economy and jobs.”
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He added: “We are paying 67 percent of wages affected by tier 3 restrictions. France is around 60 percent, Germany is at 70 percent.”
The MP also suggested that French President Emmanuel Macron look on at envy at the UK’s contact tracing app.
This prompted Ms Burley to lash out: “I don’t care, I don’t care.
“My viewers this morning in Greater Manchester don’t care what is happening in France or across the Channel. They care about all those jobs that could be lost.”
Mr Zahawi rebuffed: “So we do! That is why are paying two-thirds of the salary.”
Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that people who are stopped from working because of coronavirus restrictions will get two thirds of their salary paid by the Treasury.
This is down from 80 percent on the previous furlough scheme.
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Nadhim Zahawi also appeared to confirm that Manchester will be moved to Tier 3.
He told Kay Burley that the region’s MPs should attend this morning’s meeting “so they can hear directly from the chief medical officer, from the deputy chief medical officer, as to why we’re having to take this action”.
It comes Boris Johnson is expected to sign off on the harshest coronavirus measures for millions more people in the north of England later on Thursday.
The Tier 3 lockdown measures would mean households can no longer mix indoors and outdoors – with pubs and bars forced to close unless they can operate as restaurants.
Mr Burnham has been resistant to moving his region into the “very high” risk category, saying the financial support package on offer is not enough.
He accused ministers of putting pressure on northern regions to accept a “morally wrong” and “fundamentally flawed” system without sufficient financial support.
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