ANDY Burnham has hit back against "disappointing" criticism from Conservative MPs who believe his coronavirus strategy is an "unacceptable approach".

The elected officials from Greater Manchester co-signed a letter to Matt Hancock after Mr Burnham said it would be "impossible" to lift the current coronavirus restrictions in a single borough.

Although the letter was written by James Grundy, the representative for Leigh, other Conservative party members across the borough supported it, including Chris Green, the MP for Bolton West and Atherton, and Mark Logan, who represents Bolton North East.

Now, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has hit back at the MPs, describing the letter as "beneath contempt".

Mr Burnham said: "May I remind you all that the strategy you describe, of imposing restrictions across the whole of Greater Manchester, was not my decision but one taken by your own Government and put to me late last Thursday.

"In choosing to write to me in the way that you have, it is clear that you all 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.

"I can assure you that it was not easy to support your Government, particularly when the communication of the new police was so confused. But I did so based on the evidence and the need to put people's health first."

The group had used the letter to urge Mr Hancock to address the "clear failings" in the strategy to prevent a full lockdown being imposed across the borough.

It was written in response to Mr Burnham saying it would be "impossible" to lift stricter measures in Wigan, despite the borough having the lowest infection rates across Greater Manchester, as a spike could happen at any moment.

Although Wigan has seen an infection rate of just 7.3 in the week ending August 1, Burnham warned that the area could find itself going through a spike at any moment, as Trafford saw cases spike from 8.8 to 36.2 per 100,000 residents in two weeks.

Outbreaks in workplaces involving staff living in different parts of Greater Manchester was also raised as an issue preventing the change.

In response to their concerns, Mr Burnham added: "We have rising numbers of cases in nine out of our ten boroughs.

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

"Therefore, at this time, I do not believe it is possible to look at any borough in isolation.

"I will continue to do whatever I can to protect the health of our residents, no matter how difficult."