The Papers: ‘Northern revolt’ by ‘No 10’s night mayor’

By BBC News



image captionMany of the papers focus on the tensions between central government and local leaders, as Greater Manchester avoided being placed under the top tier of coronavirus restrictions. The i says Tory MPs in the north of England have backed Greater Manchester’s Labour Mayor Andy Burnham in his “revolt” against the prime minister. Meanwhile, London, Essex, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Elmbridge, and Barrow in Furness, have been placed under the second-highest level of restrictions.
image caption“No 10’s night mayor” is the headline for the Metro, which says Boris Johnson has been accused by Mr Burnham of using northerners as “sacrificial lambs”. The mayor also attacked the level of financial support being offered to workers affected by the restrictions, saying it will “ruin thousands of people’s lives”.
image captionThe Guardian says Downing Street’s key policy for tackling the virus has “descended into chaos” after mayors and MPs in north-west England rejected being moved into the top tier. While ministers could unilaterally impose a lockdown, that paper says they believe the cooperation of local leaders is crucial to communicate and enforce the restrictions.
image caption“The North gives Bozo a custard pie in the mush” is the Daily Star’s take, which depicts the prime minister as a clown on its front page. The paper also reports that Remembrance Day will be “shut to the public” for the first time in 100 years.
image caption“We WILL remember” is the Mirror’s reaction to the news – it calls on its readers to stand on their doorsteps at 11:00 to mark Remembrance Sunday in the absence of public events. The paper also leads with what it describes as the “northern revolt”, quoting Mr Burnham as saying people “are fed up of being treated in this way”.
image captionThe Daily Mail describes the situation as “an epidemic of madness” – with more than half of England now under extra restrictions. Along with several other papers, it also has a picture of the Queen carrying out her first public engagement outside of a royal residence in seven months – with the Mail noting she did not wear a mask when visiting Porton Down, although other safety measures were in place.
image captionMeanwhile, the Telegraph reports that the prime minister is being “pushed” towards a national lockdown, with pressure coming from Labour, scientists and the NHS. Government scientific advisers believe the tier system will “ultimately fail” and a fuller lockdown will be needed, possibly every school holiday until the virus is under control , according to the paper.
image captionThe Daily Express leads with warnings of a “ticking time bomb” for the NHS, as an estimated 26 million fewer GP visits took place since the start of the pandemic. The paper says many people are scared of catching coronavirus at surgeries, while the majority of patients have had virtual or phone consultations rather than a face-to-face appointment.
image captionThe Times leads with an investigation into what it describes as a “Russian disinformation campaign designed to undermine and spread fear about the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine”. The paper says pictures, memes and video clips depict the British-made vaccine as dangerous, with some suggesting it could turn people into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector. The Times says it is not clear if the propaganda was directly authorised by the Kremlin but it says there is evidence some Russian officials were involved – and middlemen are now seeking to “seed” the images on social media networks around the world.
image captionAway from the pandemic, the Financial Times leads with the latest news from the Brexit negotiations. The paper reports that the prime minister is expected to try to “force Brussels’ hand” by ramping up talks of a “no-deal” exit.

The stand-off between the government and regional leaders in northern England over new coronavirus measures makes the lead for most of the front pages.

“Northern revolt”, is the Mirror’s headline. “Lockdown rebellion growing”, the i declares. For the Guardian, Downing Street’s key policy for tackling Covid-19 has “descended into chaos”. The Independent online paper says Boris Johnson’s three-tier strategy is unravelling after one of his top medical advisers said it would not work and a national lockdown was needed.

The Telegraph says the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is in effect holding the government to ransom by demanding more financial help for businesses in return for supporting a move into the top tier of restrictions.

The Guardian reports that Thursday’s talks between regional leaders and a government minister designed to broker an agreement ended with bitter and angry exchanges, deepening a north-south rift.

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According to the Manchester Evening News website, even the region’s Tory MPs supported the view of Mr Burnham and other local figures that too little funding was attached to the proposals.

The Daily Mail’s headline rejects the new measures in London and elsewhere in England as an “epidemic of madness” because of their effect on the economy.

It describes the extra restrictions as draconian, saying they have sparked a fresh crisis for struggling businesses. The paper’s editorial – taking up a full page – accuses ministers of surrendering to coronavirus and trying to impose a countrywide lockdown by stealth. “Where is the conclusive evidence these stringent crackdowns actually work?” it asks.

For its lead, the Times says an investigation by the paper has exposed a Russian disinformation campaign designed to undermine and spread fear about the vaccine being developed at Oxford University.

According to the paper, the crude theme is that the vaccine could turn people into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector.

In response, the Russian embassy tells the paper the suggestion that Moscow would conduct any kind of propaganda against the vaccine is itself an example of disinformation – and obviously aimed at discrediting Russia’s efforts in combating the pandemic.

The Express highlights NHS figures showing there have been 26 million fewer visits to GP surgeries in England since the start of the pandemic than over the same period last year.

It says most patients have had to settle for a virtual or phone consultation. The paper’s leader writers urge the NHS not to let down its guard against legions of other potentially fatal diseases.

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image captionSpecial safety measures were put in place to protect the Queen during her visit to Porton Down

Finally, the Queen’s first public engagement outside a royal household since March attracts widespread attention.

Her visit to the national security laboratory at Porton Down is the main story for the Sun, which announces: “Queen out at last”.

“The Queen unmasked”, is the headline in the Metro – a reference to her decision not to wear a face covering.

The Telegraph says she returned to what she does best – meeting people, thanking unsung heroes and unveiling plaques. For the Express, the sight of the Queen out and about is timely – and will stiffen the backbone of the nation.