Greater Manchester Mayor: If Westminster Continues To Ignore The North, There'll Be A Political Crisis

16 October 2019, 17:08 | Updated: 16 October 2019, 17:52

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the Westminster model doesn't work any more and to stop the North feeling "hugely" alienated the government during Brexit, there needs to be a devolution of power to the regions of the UK.

He said places such as Burnley and Leigh that "didn't get the attention that they needed when the big industry was leaving in the 80s [feel] very alienated from not just Brussels but Westminster as well.

"And I think when they voted the referendum, they were making a statement about both, actually. And, you know, if now the kind of Westminster approach is to undermine what they said or sort of reinterprets it, or I think we're going to end up with it in this country with a real political crisis. It's brewing isn't it? You know, the level of alienation from Westminster is huge.

"And I would argue personally that the one of the big answers that wants to through the Brexit debate is more devolution to the English regions, more power in the hands of people in Burnley and Lee, right across the North.

This Westminster model has now reached the limits of what it can do when we need big change in my view coming out of it."

Andy Burnham: The level of alienation the North feel from Westminster is huge.
Andy Burnham: The level of alienation the North feel from Westminster is huge. Picture: PA

The caller, Paul from Burnley, said people have "felt voiceless for decades" and the referendum was the first time the regions had felt heard. He said he is "really concerned" that if the mainstream parties don't listen to regional voices and ignore the referendum result, people could turn to extremist views and actions.

The Mayor replied that he understood because he represented Leigh, the biggest town in the country without a train station.

"I used to make that point repeatedly in debates in the Commons and it took me a few years to realise that nobody in the civil service was listening.

"That whole system down there hasn't looked after the North. They haven't Liverpool and Manchester either particularly well.

"Westminster created the north south divide in our country by failing to allocate resources fairly over decades under all governments."