'Tier and loathing': what the papers say about tough restrictions on Manchester

By Martin Farrer

England’s widening north-south political divide dominates the papers after Boris Johnson’s government imposed tier 3 restrictions on Manchester despite fierce resistance from the city’s mayor, Andy Burnham.

The Guardian reports that Burnham accused the prime minister of playing a “game of poker with people’s lives” after the imposition of the highest level of restrictions on the city and surrounding area.

The Guardian (@guardian)

Guardian front page, Wednesday 21 October 2020: Chaos and fury as Johnson forces curbs on Manchester pic.twitter.com/Eoy252uPdR

October 20, 2020

“Chaos and fury as PM forces curbs on Manchester”, the paper’s headline says, while the Mirror picks up on the former Labour health secretary’s attack on Johnson, reading: “PM’s playing poker with the pandemic”.

Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror)

Tomorrow's #frontpage - PM’s Playing Poker With the Pandemic: Mayor slams Boris as virus clampdown forced on region#TomorrowsPapersToday

Read more: https://t.co/gHQ3iDQG6G pic.twitter.com/eQ5rdrQZV0

October 20, 2020

The quote is also used by the Manchester Evening News in its morning edition. It has a mocked-up picture of Johnson as the joker from a pack of playing cards alongside the headline “Playing poker with our lives”.

Helena Wilkinson (@BBCHelena)

Wednesday’s Manchester Evening News: Playing poker with our lives #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/PX6uUYmgWY

October 20, 2020

The Yorkshire Post picks up on the mood of rebellion in the north with its splash headline: “Northern uproar as strictest virus restrictions are imposed”.

Helena Wilkinson (@BBCHelena)

Wednesday’s Yorkshire Post: Northern uproar as strictest virus restrictions are imposed #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/8JBipKfTMA

October 20, 2020

The Times splashes with the headline “Manchester forced into highest level of lockdown”, saying that No 10 is “at war” with Burnham. It reports that Johnson tried to use a £60m package of support to make Manchester agree to the stricter rules but quotes a Downing Street source blaming Burnham for the collapse in the talks.

Helena Wilkinson (@BBCHelena)

Wednesday’s Times: Manchester forced into highest level of lockdown #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/MkjqnJPV6R

October 20, 2020

The Financial Times broadens the scope of Johnson’s tough day at the office with its story under what for the pink ‘un is an unusually rhyming headline: “Johnson buffeted by tussles with city leaders, business and Brussels”.

The Telegraph tries to the move the story on from the showdown in Manchester where, inconveniently for Johnson, Burnham has received a lot of support from regional Tory MPs.

Its lead is a warning that other cities in the north face similar curbs if infections continue to spiral, with the headline: “Northern cities told they could be next”. It says that South Yorkshire is expecting to be placed under tier 3 this week and that West Yorkshire, the north-east, Teesside and Nottingham were also in the sights of the government.

The Telegraph (@Telegraph)

The front page of tomorrow's Daily Telegraph:

'Northern cities told they could be next'#TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/sgLYxn7x2C

October 20, 2020

Under its headline “PM facing wrath of Manchester”, the i has a similar line and reports that Yorkshire, the north-east and Nottinghamshire are likely to be the next regions to see tougher restrictions imposed from above.

The Mail’s headline is “Now show us your papers” as it reports on a letter from Scotland Yard to pub landlords telling them to demand names, addresses and even photo ID from drinkers in order to more effectively track and trace outbreaks of Covid-19.

Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK)

Wednesday's @DailyMailUK #MailFrontPages pic.twitter.com/6XlBzAlxym

October 20, 2020

The Express goes once more into the breach and picks up a wartime-style appeal for national unity from the CBI’s north-west director, Damian Waters, to bolster Johnson’s wielding of central power. “Only national unity will defeat virus”, its headline says.

The Metro has the best pun of the day with “Tier and loathing” as its splash headline.

Metro Newspaper UK (@MetroUKNews)

Wednesday's front page:
LOATHING#tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers #skypapers pic.twitter.com/bxLbqUbmOn

October 20, 2020

In Scotland, the Herald reports on concern about restaurants not following the rules already in force north of the border. “Restaurants face forced closures after refusing to follow rules”, it says.

The Herald (@heraldscotland)

Wednesday's front page of The Herald
- Restaurants face forced closure if they continue to defy circuit breaker ban
- 'Demonising' people will not encourage Covid rules compliance, says academic#TomorrowsPapersToday#scotpapers#BuyAPaper & subscribe: https://t.co/Ms01UHC8R6 pic.twitter.com/JEZh0mHC1P

October 20, 2020