Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham of trying to “hold the government over a barrel” by resisting tougher coronavirus restrictions.
Burnham and fellow leaders have "unanimously rejected" the area going into a Tier 3 lockdown without increased financial support.
Greater Manchester has stayed under Tier 2 restrictions amid the bitter political row.
Raab told BBC Breakfast: “Ultimately we need to take action – we can’t have a situation as we have seen in Manchester where Andy Burnham is effectively trying to hold the Government over a barrel over money and politics when actually we need to take action.
“The cases there are 470 per 100,000 so it is very serious, and we must take action in the interest of the people of Manchester and the wider area, and if we take those targeted actions in those areas most affected… we get through this and we avoid the national level lockdown.”
Burnham responded on Twitter, saying his demands were about “fairness” for those on low incomes.
Greater Manchester leaders have "unanimously rejected" enhanced measures without an 80% guaranteed income support for those affected.
In a joint statement, Burnham, along with North Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll and Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram, said: “Paying two-thirds of salaries will not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands – it should at least match the 80% that was available under furlough, with the minimum wage as the minimum support.”
In an impassioned press conference on Thursday, Burnham accused the government of treating the North “with contempt” and of trying to make it the “sacrificial lamb” for unproven measures carried out “on the cheap”.
“We have to protect the health of the nation but let’s do it as one nation, and not make the North of England the sacrificial lamb for an ill-thought-through Downing Street policy which doesn’t make sense in the real world,” he said.
In comes as Lancashire became the second area of England to be placed under the toughest coronavirus restrictions.
From Saturday, people will be banned from socialising with anybody they do not live with in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.
All pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals, and casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will be forced to shut.
Watch: Manchester Pushing Back
On Friday government scientific advisor Graham Medley, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, questioned how effective local lockdown measures would be.
He told BBC Radio 4: “I really hope that they are [successful] but the general feeling is that they might not be, that we might have to have much more of an approach and that this three week delay between the impact of interventions and it affecting hospitalisations means we are already going to be close to where we were in April in two or three weeks time.”
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