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Labour mayor Andy Burnham at odds with Starmer over Tory tax cut

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham (Jacob King/PA)
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham (Jacob King/PA)

Labour mayor Andy Burnham has said he thinks the 1p income tax cut should not go ahead, directly contradicting the stance of leader Sir Keir Starmer.

He also suggested cash earmarked for tax cuts should be refunnelled into a pay deal for nurses, as he branded the Chancellor’s mini-budget a “flagrant act of vandalism”.

Sir Keir said on Sunday that he backed Kwasi Kwarteng’s promise to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p from April.

But the mayor of Greater Manchester said he opposes the move, as he does not think it is “the most targeted way of using the resources that we’ve got at this moment in time”.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “That’s my position, I don’t think it was a time for tax cuts. I think this is a time to support people through a crisis.”

Speaking to GB News, he warned of a “mental health crisis” in the winter, and said it would be his “priority” to use the funds earmarked for cutting taxes to help ease the strain.

“I think we’re heading into a mental health crisis as well this winter and I would use the money to put it into mental health to ensure nurses have got a fair pay deal, to shore up the NHS. That would be my priority,” he said.

He described Friday’s so-called “fiscal event” as “the most flagrant act of vandalism on the social cohesion of our country” adding that the Government had “basically … drawn battle lines with ordinary working people”.

He also told GB News the next Labour leader would be a woman “in an ideal world”.

But he said whoever takes the job has to be the “right person” and not the product of “ticking a box”.

Labour Party Conference 2021
Labour’s shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary Lucy Powell said she probably would not put herself forward for her party’s leadership (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Meanwhile, Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary, told Times Radio it is “sad” that she would probably not put herself forward for leader because of social media and the reaction to “women in public life”.

On his own leadership ambitions, Mr Burnham told Ridge: “I wouldn’t rule out one day going back, as I’ve said, I’m just going to be honest about that and I probably am a better politician.”

He also told GB News it was important for Labour to showcase the work of its mayors at its annual conference.

“I don’t make the decisions, and obviously there’s pressure on the conference timetable, but I do think where you’ve got Labour mayors making real positive changes, such as putting a cap on bus fares, which we’ve done now and people are benefitting from that, let’s showcase that,” he said.

Mr Burnham said he backed a rendition of God Save The King to kick off the conference – a move branded by former leader Jeremy Corbyn as “very odd”.