United Kingdom

Andy Burnham accuses Keir Starmer of sidelining metro mayors

Andy Burnham today accused Sir Keir Starmer of sidelining Labour's metro mayors at the party's annual conference. 

Mr Burnham questioned if the party is 'serious about winning back the north of England' after he claimed senior elected politicians had not been given the chance to deliver major televised speeches in the conference hall.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester said it is 'regrettable that no Labour metro mayor outside of London is being asked to address this conference properly from the platform'. 

Andy Burnham today accused Sir Keir Starmer of sidelining Labour's metro mayors at the party's annual conference

Speaking at a fringe event in Brighton this afternoon, Mr Burnham claimed Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, will be the only regional mayor who will address the main conference hall from the platform. 

He said: ‘I do think it starts with taking this role that we have seriously. 

'It is I think regrettable that no Labour metro mayor outside of London is being asked to address this conference properly from the platform.

‘I think Sadiq should have a conference speech from the platform. He is the mayor of our capital city and he is doing a damn fine job of being mayor of our capital city.

‘But if this party is serious about winning back the north of England, why is Steve Rotheram (Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region) not standing up there making a speech?

‘Why isn’t Tracy Brabin, our first woman metro mayor, not addressing this conference from the platform?’

Mr Burnham said there is a need to 'see this party’s commitment to the north of England'. 

The former MP said Labour should focus on rebuilding in the north of the country 'because when we rebuild there we will keep it strong and that will be the foundation for future Labour governments to come’.

Labour sources said that Mr Burnham and Ms Brabin are scheduled to deliver some  remarks to the conference hall. 

Mr Burnham said Labour must fully commit to devolution because locally elected mayors have the power to improve lives. 

He compared the party and its apparent fixation on waiting for general elections to win power to that of a 'problem gambler'. 

He said: 'This mindset that we have got in the Labour Party that we say "do you know what, we will just wait four more years, and then we will go in, and this time, and this time".

'It is like a problem gambler walking into a casino.' 

Mr Burnham was introduced at the event hosted by the Progressive Economy Forum as the 'King of the North'.

He joked: 'I have not quite gathered all the troops on the M6 at Knutsford services yet. But you never know, the day may come.' 

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