POLITICS

Last-Minute Labour Conference Shake-Up Avoids Sadiq Khan Snub - But Still No Slot For Andy Burnham

Addition will do little to quell anger that line-up is too southern.

21/09/2017 17:44 | Updated 22 September 2017
PAUL ELLIS via Getty Images
Sadiq Khan's addition will do little to quell anger that the Labour conference line-up is too southern

Sadiq Khan will speak at Labour conference as part of a last-minute shake-up of the agenda - but his Manchester counterpart Andy Burnham will not. 

Senior figures from Jeremy Corbyn’s team confirmed the London Mayor has a slot on the bill at next week’s conference in Brighton, following weeks of criticism the powerful city mayors were being sidelined. 

HuffPost UK understands Burnham is still being kept off the bill, however, despite the Greater Manchester Mayor warning the party is cutting off the “northern Labour family” and risks becoming “London-centric”. 

Khan is the latest politician representing London selected to speak and his addition will do little to quell anger that the line-up is too focused on the south. 

The agenda includes keynote speeches from London MPs Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer. Health spokesman Jon Ashworth, education spokeswoman Angela Rayner and deputy leader Tom Watson also have slots.

During an interview with HuffPost earlier this month, Burnham said giving him an opportunity to speak at conference would be see “Greater Manchester getting its voice heard.”

He went on: “If I was them (party chiefs), I would just think about that and making sure that conference is truly of all the country.” 

CHRIS J RATCLIFFE via Getty Images
Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, would have called on delegates to embrace devolution and 'make sure that the northern labour family doesn't leave us'

Asked what message his speech would have contained, he went on: “I think what I would have said was that it is time to embrace devolution wholeheartedly, create ‘Northern Labour’, give the party a northern voice and celebrate that and show how we can, by embracing that, make sure that the northern Labour family doesn’t leave us.”

A senior Labour source hinted Burnham, or Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram, would be offered more time in front of delegates in future as Khan’s appearance was part of a “rotating mayoral slot”. 

The source said: “We’re relaxed about it and are exploring the possibility of a rotating mayoral slot.

“The issue was never about personalities but giving delegates more time to debate.” 

A source from the London Mayor’s office added: “Sadiq is happy either way. It’s great if he can give a speech to Labour members — he’d better start writing one. But we don’t want this to be a distraction from the big issues being addressed at conference.”

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