Boris Johnson seemingly launched his first major infrastructure project this week, rebuilding Labour’s “red wall” across the north of England.
The sight of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham finding out live on television via a text message that his region would be receiving £22million in Covid support, not the £65million requested, will live long in voters’ minds.
The Government have since been at pains to stress £60million will be provided, but the damage has been done and the election leaflets are already in production.
It was no surprise therefore that this week’s prime minister’s questions was a special Manchester edition, although Keir Starmer raised a few eyebrows opting for a drop intro – first quizzing the PM on the intricacies of his tier 3 lockdown restrictions.
Quite a moment as Andy Burnham is shown the government’s £22 million offer on live TV. pic.twitter.com/yN8VnNlDJb
— Dino Sofos (@dinosofos) October 20, 2020
Once he’d cleared that up, the PM’s feet were truly held to the fire.
Sir Keir told the PM he’d “crossed a Rubicon” with his “grubby take it or leave it” Covid deals offered to local authorities, his actions were “corrosive to public trust” and were “dividing communities”.
The PM, who had such success winning seats across northern England last December, waved the criticism away – quite literally from his Commons seat.
Johnson said he was “proud” of the support already given to regions across England, a line that will be difficult to sell to communities and local businesses in the months ahead who need cash now, not a list of past achievements.
If the backlash against the Government this week is anything to go by, we’re in for a very bumpy winter.