Eddie Mair challenges Tory MP who insists regional leaders "put politics aside"

21 October 2020, 17:16

By Fiona Jones

This is the moment Eddie Mair asks Tory MP Jake Berry if Sir Keir Starmer should be invited to join the Cabinet after he called for local leaders to "put politics aside" when challenging the Government's financial support for regions.

This came after talks between Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Westminster broke down over the amount of financial support offered for the area to go into the toughest Covid restrictions.

MP Jake Berry told Eddie Mair that the people of the north "want politics put aside to deal with this crisis, they want Andy Burnham working with the Government."

Eddie asked how politics could be put aside between politicians.

"Great national events and crises call for us to move beyond petty politics," he said, citing both World Wars, with Eddie reminding him this is not a war.

Mr Berry explained that the economic impact made it not dissimilar to a war, so Eddie responded, "Well in that case get Boris Johnson to invite Keir Starmer into his Cabinet."

The MP ignored this, insisting that the public wish for regional leaders to "take the rosettes off" and stop having a "hairy chest competition about money" and "come up with a solution."

He continued that if any politician, no matter their stripe, uses the pandemic as a political football then "the public will turn against them."

"At times when it's very difficult for the country, politicians should forget their party and simply work with other people, that's what should happen?" Eddie surmised, to which the MP said people "expect" politicians to "work in the national interest."

"Which leads me to ask you again...if it's okay for regional leaders to put down their party rosettes, should Boris Johnson invite Sir Keir Starmer into his Cabinet?" Eddie asked - Mr Berry replied that "we're not at that position."

Eddie reminded him that this was the point he was making and Mr Berry branded him "mischievous" for making that comparison.

"I'm following your argument to its logical conclusion. If there's a national crisis, it's OK for regional leaders to set aside political differences, but not national ones?" Eddie said.

Mr Berry backtracked about national unity, and said, "People don't want to see opposition for opposition's sake."