The new tiered local lockdown system the prime minister will announce today is aimed at trying to slow the spread of coronavirus while also keeping as many parts of the economy open where it can.
But trying to carve England into different zones, driven by charts tracking case numbers per population and hospital capacity from behind desks in Westminster, is stoking huge tensions between central government and regional leaders.
Regional mayors have very vocally complained over recent days that they have been cut out of the decision-making process determining how millions of people – the Liverpudlians, Mancunians, Lancastrians – will have to live in the coming weeks.
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Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said over the weekend that people in the North feel like the government is “actively working against us”.
“I haven’t felt anger like this towards the government since the 1980s,” the shadow foreign secretary said.
Certainly last week, information was flowing from central government to local public health officials without political engagement, leaving some regional mayors having to scramble around for details.
At points, journalists in Westminster seemed to have more information than regional leaders, which stoked obvious tension and vocal criticism from metro mayors such as Manchester’s Andy Burnham, Liverpool’s Steve Rotherham and Sheffield’s Dan Jarvis.
In central government there is frustration, too. There is private frustration from some ministers who feel some mayors are using this crisis for partisan advantage – or letting information get out prematurely.
“Andy Burnham is seen as spending time complaining,” said one senior government figure.
“Steve Rotherham is seen as recognising the problem and trying fixing it. Andy Street [West Midlands Mayor] is using his airtime to press public health.”
The government has over the weekend sought to consult with local leaders.
The prime minister called Mr Rotherham and other mayors have been in dialogue with Eddie Lister, Mr Johnson’s senior aide.
Liverpool City Region is, according to a cabinet source, “very concerning” and is expected to be put into the strictest tier today as local leaders work out the details of a financial support package with the government.
As of Sunday night, regional teams were still putting in proposals to No 10 with meetings scheduled this morning as the government tries to carve up the country into different tiers.
As of last night it was “still TBC” as to whether the prime minister’s statement to the House of Commons will include details on which areas are in which tier.
But within government the expectations are that most areas will be in tier one with national measures – the rule of six and social distancing – and places such as Manchester and Lancashire put into tier two.
For millions of people living in the north of England, their lives are about to change again as we enter the next phase of COVID restrictions.
That’s why this week I’m going to be in the north of England, travelling between cities and talking to local leaders, officials and members of the public.
I want to bring you the perspective not from Westminster, but rather from the people who are living the decisions made in SW1. Follow our journey on Sky News all week.