ANDY Burnham has accused Conservative MPs of "not having the courage" to stand up to their government’s decision to impose tighter lockdown restrictions in Greater Manchester.

The city-region mayor came under fire for saying it would be "impossible" to lift the measures in boroughs with low infection rates as Covid-19 was "endemic" across the region.

His comments prompted nine local Tory MPs to write to health secretary Matt Hancock calling for "swift action" against Mr Burnham’s "crude and ineffective" approach.

The letter was made public by the Bury Conservatives in a Twitter post on Thursday afternoon.

But in a scathing response Mr Burnham reminded them that the restrictions had been introduced not by himself but by the government.

Publishing his own letter on Twitter, Mr Burnham said: “In choosing to write to me in the way that you have, it is clear that you disagree with your own government’s decision but do not have the courage to say so.

“Instead, you are clearly seeking to deflect blame and politicise this issue.

“I would consider this fairly low behaviour at any time.

“But in the middle of a global pandemic, when I am trying to work across party lines and provide cross-party support to your Government for the difficult decisions it is having to take, it is beneath contempt.”

The letter says the government will stick with the restrictions having seen that Covid-19 cases are climbing in nine out of the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham admitted "it was not easy" to support the government, given the "confused" way the restrictions were communicated, but he did so "based on the evidence and the need to put people’s health first".

In their letter the Tory MPs argue that measures should be introduced on a borough by borough basis or town by town basis if there are hotspots but low rates in the same authority area.

But in his letter Mr Burnham reiterated comments he made at a press conference on Wednesday, August 5, that this would be hard to do in Greater Manchester as every borough is interconnected.

He said: “Most people routinely cross borough boundaries on a daily basis. Even in places where case numbers are low, they are on the doorstep of places where they are much higher.

“If the facts change, and we were to see decreases in a cluster of boroughs, then of course this could be reviewed.”

Mr Burnham concluded his letter by saying that he will continue to work across political divides to "protect the health of our residents" and that he ‘won’t be deflected by local Tory MPs putting politics before public safety’.