Sadiq Khan insists Andy Burnham backs Keir Starmer after row

‘Andy supports the leader’: Sadiq Khan tries to act as peacemaker as he insists Burnham does back Keir Starmer after Manchester mayor questioned if Labour is ‘serious about winning back the north of England’

  • Andy Burnham said it is ‘regrettable’ metro mayors are not making big speeches
  • He questioned ‘if this party is serious about winning back the north of England’
  • Mr Burnham has been widely tipped as a potential successor to Keir Starmer
  • Sadiq Khan insisted that Mr Burnham ‘is somebody who supports the leader’ 
  • Mr Khan also said Sir Keir is listening to Labour’s selection of metro mayors 

Sadiq Khan today tried to act as peacemaker in a row between Andy Burnham and Keir Starmer as he insisted the Mayor of Greater Manchester does support the Labour leader. 

Mr Burnham yesterday accused Sir Keir of sidelining Labour’s metro mayors at the party’s annual conference in Brighton. 

He 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. 

But Mr Khan stepped in this morning to insist that ‘Andy is somebody who supports the leader’. 

The Mayor of London said Sir Keir is talking to Labour’s selection of elected mayors to ‘listen to our points of view because we are a good example of Labour in power’.  

The comments from Mr Burnham, who has been widely tipped as a potential successor to Sir Keir, risked igniting a major internal Labour row.

Sadiq Khan today tried to act as peacemaker in a row between Andy Burnham and Keir Starmer as he insisted the Mayor of Greater Manchester does support the Labour leader

Mr Burnham yesterday accused Sir Keir of sidelining Labour’s metro mayors at the party’s annual conference

But Mr Khan said Sir Keir is talking to Labour’s selection of elected mayors to ‘listen to our points of view because we are a good example of Labour in power’

Told that Mr Burnham had suggested Labour’s mayors were being sidelined at the annual showcase, Mr Khan said: ‘Well, I was with Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram last night, united with my friends from the north.

‘Look, I have not seen the comments you are talking about but I know Andy is somebody who supports the leader.

‘Andy is somebody who has a huge amount of experience in government, as a member of Parliament and now as a brilliant mayor in Manchester.’ 

Mr Khan insisted that Sir Keir is listening to his elected mayors as the party tries to plot a path back to power. 

He told Sky News: ‘One of the things that Keir is doing, and the top team, is talking to the likes of Mark Drakeford running Wales, but also mayors across the country from Tracy Brabin, Steve Rotheram, Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis, many other mayors across the country, Marvin Rees, and indeed myself to listen to our points of view because we are a good example of Labour in power, delivering real change.’ 

Speaking at a fringe event yesterday afternoon, Mr Burnham claimed Mr Khan 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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