Andy Burnham will be running for a third term as Mayor of Greater Manchester - but says he won’t rule out another tilt at becoming Labour leader.
Mr Burnham made a bid for the job in 2010 and 2015, but in an exclusive interview with GB News he hinted it could be third time lucky.
Speaking to GB News' Gloria De Piero on Gloria Meets he said: “Well, firstly I will be running for a third term as Mayor of Greater Manchester. I love what I’m doing. I think what we are building in Manchester is a big part of the answer to make British politics work better. And that is putting more power in the hands of a place like Greater Manchester.
“You give a place like this more power and it’s unbelievable what it can do with it. So I’m not walking away from that, I’m going to be standing for a third term.
Andy Burnham refused to rule out another run for the Labour leadership Image: GB News
“What the future holds beyond that? I honestly don’t know. I have said I wouldn’t rule out going back at some point, but to make it clear, I would like to see Keir Starmer as the next Prime Minister of this country.
“I hope there will be a Labour government that really does get power out of Westminster. But later down the line, after all of that has happened, I'm not going to say that I'm going to rule that out. I mean, having been in Westminster all of those years, and now having done this for almost six years, I feel I know a lot of the changes this country needs.”
In a wide-ranging interview ahead of the Convention of the North event next week, Mr Burnham also admitted Labour along with the Tories were failing to cut through to voters.
“I don’t think any of the parties are really cutting through to the extent that is needed given the feelings people have got about life at the moment,” he said.
“I don’t think this is a moment for sort of ‘business as usual’ politics. This is a moment where people are in a crisis situation in terms of their finances, and they look around and they see trains that don’t work, but the companies who run them are getting bailed out to the tune of hundreds of millions. They look at a situation where energy was all sold off, and now they have to pay thousands for their bills, whereas in other countries that’s not the case. People look at housing where everything was broken up and sold off.
“I honestly think the public are saying, ‘Well hang on a minute, that stuff has not worked’. It’s not working for the vast majority of people. People can’t afford the basics, they can’t afford the essentials.”
Outlining how Labour might better connect with working class voters he continued: “I think it’s about focusing on the issues that working class people care about and that they experience every day.
“When I was in Parliament I can barely remember someone from Labour’s side standing at the despatch box saying, ‘I’m going to make a big issue about reforming buses’. I never heard it once. And yet you come back here as Mayor and everyone is like, ‘Sort the buses out Andy, they're an absolute mess,’.
Mr Burnham said being able to deliver in the north had also allowed people to “see the real me”.
“In this role I don't have the same constraints,” he admitted. “I'm kind of speaking for the place, not always the party. I'm doing what's right for Greater Manchester. This is the place I’m from, the place I love, I’m at home here. So yeah, I think that leads to you coming across in a different way. I look back on my time in Westminster and I don’t think people did see the real me.”
Outlining his vision for the north he said: “The North’s getting organised. It’s getting stronger, it’s not going to put up with things the way they’ve always been. Maybe people saw that in the pandemic when the Government tried to railroad us into tier three and we took a stand.
“Things have changed, and in that moment, Whitehall did not like us answering back, but they’re going to have to get used to it. The North is not going back to the way we were treated before. Now this isn’t about getting threatening or anything like that, it’s about being positive about what we’ve got to offer as the North of England.
Andy Burnham spoke to GB News' Gloria De Piero in an exclusive GB News interview Image: GB News
"There is so much more we could be with the right support. But people in Whitehall should make no mistake, they can’t continue to treat us in the way they always have done, when it comes to transport for instance, as second-class citizens that should just expect a second-class service. Well, no, I’m sorry, that’s over.
Mr Burnham also perhaps surprisingly chose to heap praise on one of his political opponents -Michael Gove.
Explaining why he respects him he said: “I was Shadow Education Secretary when he was Education Secretary, and we definitely didn’t agree at that time, but we always got on and I respected his energy as a minister. He gets things done. He makes change happen and that’s what you want in a Government minister. Too many of them mind the paper clips and are there because they like being there, they like the idea of it.
“Whereas Michael actually uses it to try and get things done, and I think both of us have kind of come a bit more together. So it’s a pleasure to work with him at times, actually. I don’t mind saying that because he goes about things in a good way. He listens, not every minister on any side does that, but he does. And I’m hoping within a month or so, to have signed a new devolution deal for Great Manchester with Michael and the rest of the Government. That will be a big sign that devolution is really coming into its own.
Meanwhile Mr Burnham, who has spent much of his career fighting for the victims of Hillsborough tragedy, movingly told GB News about what sparked the campaign.
He said: “The big thing that happened while I was at university was Hillsborough. I was in my Easter break in my first year at unit, I’m a big Everton supporter. I was back home, and I was in the pub with friends who were Liverpool supporters who were going to Hillsborough.
THE FULL INTERVIEW IS BROADCAST ON SUNDAY AT 6PM ON GLORIA MEETS ON GB NEWS