North west

Andy Burnham turns the tables on Nicola Sturgeon

As leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon has earned a reputation for rallying against what she argues is an arrogant Westminster elite which rides roughshod over Scots. It appears now though that the Scottish First Minister might be getting a taste of her own medicine. This week, she has ended up in a fierce war of words with the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, after the Scottish government unilaterally introduced a travel ban on Manchester and Salford. On Friday, Sturgeon announced without warning that travel between the two North West areas and Scotland would be forbidden from Sunday, due to rising concerns about the Indian (or Delta) variant. Travel

Andy Burnham sets out his stall against local lockdowns

On Friday, researchers at the University of Cambridge working with Public Health England estimated that the R number – Covid’s rate of transmission – has risen above 1 in the North West, meaning the virus may be starting to spread in the region. In every other region of England, the study suggested, the R number is either at 1 or below. In response, Matt Hancock confirmed at the Downing Street press conference that the government’s strategy, if the virus begins to spread in a particular region, is to introduce local lockdowns (although the Health Secretary believes the R number is still below 1 in the North West at this stage).