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'Westminster is dysfunctional': Burnham calls for 'rewiring of UK' to support Levelling Up

12 May 2022, 19:41 | Updated: 13 May 2022, 02:13

By Sophie Barnett

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called for the "rewiring of the whole country" to support Levelling Up and to eliminate the north-south divide.

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Mr Burnham told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr that the system in Westminster is "dysfunctional" and claimed it had "created the north-south divide".

He said: "In that one place, all areas are not represented equally.

"The nations and regions of the UK are not equally represented in our own Parliament - therefore Parliament is weighted towards one part of the country, 'the golden triangle', and we have a very unequal country."

The golden triangle refers to the triangle formed by the university cities of Cambridge, London and Oxford.

Mr Burnham, who served in Gordon Brown's Cabinet from 2007 to 2010, said he favours a reform put forward by singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, which could see a proportional Lords, opposed to the 'one party takes all' system.

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"You'd get a proportional Lords that equally represented all parts of the UK," Mr Burnham explained.

"What's always put these in the deep freeze has been this idea 'oh well the voters don't care, it's too internal'.

"That's what was always said in the Blair and Brown era when I raised these kind of issues, but I think something has changed.

"I think the country now, people now, have a clearer sense that this system, this Westminster thing, just doesn't actually function. It's dysfunctional.

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"Actually more radical change is needed for Levelling Up, you have to rewire the whole country, in my view, to support the Levelling Up idea."

Mr Burnham said he understood that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is "open to the idea".

"Certainly, when he ran for leadership these ideas were on the agenda," he told Andrew.

Mr Burnham also spoke about the cost of living crisis, saying we "overtax work and under-tax wealth".

He said he supports introducing a land value tax as he proposed a "fundamental rest" of the tax system.

His comments come after Boris Johnson refused to rule out windfall tax, in an exclusive interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari.

The Prime Minister has faced increased pressure to introduce the tax as Brits continue to suffer from spiralling energy costs.

Shell and BP were among those to have made record first-quarter profits thanks to the increase in oil and gas prices.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari during his visit to Finland on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: "The disadvantage with those sort of taxes is that they deter investment in the very things that we need to see them putting them in.

"They need to be investing in new technology, in new energy supplies for the UK."

"But the bosses say it won't deter them, Prime Minister," Nick hit back.

"Well then we'll have to look at it. What I say is I want them to make those investments - they've got to be making those investments - in new energy supply for our country," Mr Johnson said.