Andy Burnham: Could Manchester mayor could usurp Keir Starmer to become Labour leader?

Keir Starmer debunks claims that Boris Johnson was in the 'right'

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Andy Burnham has been positioned as an insurgent heir to Sir Keir Starmer, particularly by critics of the current Labour leader. The former health secretary and MP for Leigh, out of Westminster since winning the mayoralty in 2017, has been tipped for the top job on numerous occasions in recent months – but would he ever run for the leader of the opposition?

Will Andy Burnham become Labour leader?

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has insisted he has no ambitions to return to Westminster and take over as party chief.

Speculation was rife last year that Mr Burnham may launch a leadership bid, but as Sir Keir’s approval ratings climbed in the polls amidst numerous scandals in Boris Johnson’s Government.

According to recent polls from YouGov, Labour has a 10-point lead over the Conservatives in the wake of the latest “partygate” revelations as well as the second jobs debate that occurred at the end of 2021.

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It is the biggest lead the party has had over the Conservatives since 2013.

Speaking on LBC in January, Mr Burnham said running for the party leadership role would not be on the cards in the near future.

However, he said he would be open to stepping up in the future, once his second term as mayor comes to an end in 2025.

He said: “Perhaps later down the line.

“I’ve said that and I’m not going to change my story on that.

“I’m very much committed to serving a full second term here in Greater Manchester and I think we’re building something really important.

“This is about building a healthier approach to politics in Britain but if, years down the line, that opportunity arose, I’m not going to turn my face away from it.”

He also offered his backing to Sir Keir, whose speech in parliament in response to the Sue Gray report on Monday won him widespread support.

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Mr Burnham continued: “I think the current leader of the Labour Party has that in considerable amounts and it’s what’s needed right now.

“I’m very happy doing what I’m doing here now.”

Mr Burnham also highlighted that he felt Westminster was a part of the problem in politics.

He said: “I feel part of the problem is too much focus on Westminster.

“It’s just a dysfunctional environment and I think we’ll be a happier country and work better politically when there’s more power out of Westminster and a less tribal approach to politics.”

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