Burnham launches attack on Starmer for sidelining Labour mayors as he eyes leadership bid

Andy Burnham discusses Labour’s future on Question Time

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Mr Burham, who is thought to be positioning himself for a future leadership bid, claimed only London mayor Sadiq Khan had been given a slot to address delegates at the main conference hall in Brighton. The Mayor of Greater Manchester made the comments while addressing a fringe meeting of party members.

Nicknamed the King of the North, the Labour politician has made a name for himself by standing up to London politicians.

In remarks which will once again raise eyebrows about his future ambitions, Mr Burnham said Labour could never win back the trust of Red Wall voters if it did not start showing its “commitment to the north of England”.

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?”

His attack at the leadership’s conference planning was met with cheers by Labour members attending the fringe meeting.

However, Labour sources have dismissed his criticism and say both Mr Burnham and Ms Brabin are due to address the conference hall today.

The two metro mayors are taking part in a panel discussion on devolution.

Further ramping up his attack on Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Burnham criticised the Labour Party’s failure to campion its regional achievements and instead focusing all its energy on general elections.

He compared the party’s attitude 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’.

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“It is like a problem gambler walking into a casino.”

The mayor admitted earlier this year he “one day” hoped to take on the top job.

Speaking at an event organised by Jewish charity Limmud in February, he said of his hopes to become leader: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have aspirations.

“One day, if it became possible, but I’m not sitting here plotting a way to do so. I wouldn’t say never.”

In June, a poll of Labour members found the vast majority would rather Mr Burnham led the party than Sir Keir.

A YouGov poll found 69 percent of Labour members were in favour of the Manchester mayor taking over.

Sir Keir has struggled to get on the front foot since becoming Labour leader last spring.

He has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for stifling his attempts to prevent his vision for Britain to the nation.

The Holborn and St Pancras MP is hoping to use his speech to Labour members at the conference on Wednesday to relaunch his leadership.

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