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MPs rebelling against PM because of levelling up 'failure', Burnham says

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 1:30pm

By Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter @josephtiman

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Red Wall MPs are rebelling against Boris Johnson because of his 'failure' to deliver on promises to level up the country, according to Andy Burnham.

The Greater Manchester mayor told listeners on LBC on Wednesday morning (19 January) that he cannot see how the Prime Minister will survive the 'partygate' scandal.

It comes as Tory MPs who were first elected in 2019, including some in the city-region, have called for a vote of no confidence in their leader following reports of parties which took place at Downing Street during lockdown.

Red Wall MPs are reported to have led the rebellion against the Prime Minister.

Speaking on a radio phone-in before news broke that the Tory MP for Bury South, Christian Wakeford, had defected to Labour, Burnham said it is hard to see how Johnson will survive the scandal – but he said the problems are deeper than ‘partygate’.

Responding to a question from presenter Nick Ferrari, the metro mayor said many people ‘lent their vote’ to the Tories, but that loan has not been ‘repaid’.

He said: “It’s interesting that the 2019 MPs – the so-called Red Wall MPs – are leading the rebellion. I think that’s because they feel there’s been a failure to honour promises on levelling up, as well the observing of the rules in the pandemic. So I think it’s interesting that the rebellion is coming from there.

“The Prime Minister came to Manchester days within taking office and promised a new railway line between Manchester and Leeds and we have been told before Christmas that we’re not getting that.

“There’s things like that also in the background here.

“There’s a failure to deliver on levelling up, there’s a failure to deliver for the North of England, and I think that’s all playing into the situation that we’re in.”

The Greater Manchester mayor was referring to the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands which was published by the government last year.

The document proposed the biggest ever government investment in Britain’s rail network with a £96bn package to deliver a ‘modern network’ in the region.

However, the plans were criticised for reneging on long-held promises to create a new line linking Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester and Bradford.

The Labour mayor dismissed upgrades of existing railway lines as a ‘rebrand’ which would not deliver the promises first made by the Conservatives in 2014.

The government also announced the first round of successful bidders for its £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund last year of which six were in Greater Manchester.

The Greater Manchester mayor also answered questions from callers about the Clean Air Zone which is due to be discussed by council leaders tomorrow.

He said: “The reason why all of this is really going to have be reviewed, in my view, is because there’s been a big change in the vehicle market.

“We were going to help people to change their vehicles so they would pay no charge.

“The aim of this scheme isn’t to raise any money – I know people won’t believe that, but that’s not what we’re trying to do – we’re just trying to clean up the air.

“But the cost of vehicles has risen, so many would be stuck paying that charge.

“That’s why the 10 Greater Manchester councils are meeting tomorrow to consider putting this back to government to say this isn’t workable in its current form.”

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