Andy Burnham: The North doesn't need 'dysfunctional' Westminster

Friday, September 13, 2019

The North of England doesn't need "dysfunctional" Westminster to govern it, according to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

His comments come as the Prime Minister heads to Yorkshire today, where he is expected to set out plans to give northern regions more funding and decision-making powers at the annual Convention of the North conference.

"As Westminster has become more dysfunctional and more divided, the North by contrast has been getting more organised and more unified," Mr Burnham told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"Give us more power, let us do more for ourselves. We will make better decisions that the ones Westminster has hoisted on us all these years."

Boris Johnson is expected to reiterate government support for a South Yorkshire devolution deal, and back talks for similar deals in Leeds and West Yorkshire.

But Mr Burnham said he was sceptical the Prime Minister's enthusiasm for northern devolution could be "electioneering".

"I hope he means to deliver the promises I think he's about to make today," he added.

"Westminster is broken, it can’t agree anymore on anything. What is the answer to that? Take power out of Westminster, put it in the hands of the people here."

He continued: "Westminster doesn't just need to rethink its relationship with Brussels, it also needs to rethink its relationship with the rest of England. It has had a London-centric approach for years."

The former Labour MP said he "barely recognised" politics in the wake of the EU referendum.

"It was always a strange place, but not like this... open protest and behaviour which is sometimes not befitting of Parliament, and it is on both sides," he said.

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