Andy Burnham’s allies: If Sir Keir Starmer is not ‘three or four points’ ahead of Boris Johnson in the polls in 12 months he must go

  • Allies of Andy Burnham reignited doubts about Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership  
  • It comes as Burnham makes an open offer to work with the Prime Minnister, despite Sir Keir dismissing him as a ‘trivial’ trickster
  • The Greater Manchester mayor unveiled a ‘positive offer’ to deliver Mr Johnson’s key pledge to level-up the UK’s economy

Allies of would-be Labour leader Andy Burnham have given Sir Keir Starmer a year to prove he can lead the party to victory at the next election.

They reignited doubts about Sir Keir’s leadership by saying he must be ‘three or four points’ ahead of Boris Johnson’s Tories in 12 months’ time.

The warning will enrage the Labour leader’s team, who hoped Sir Keir had stifled speculation about his position after he faced down Left-wing hecklers at last week’s party conference.

But it also comes as Greater Manchester mayor Mr Burnham makes an open offer to work with the Prime Minister, despite Sir Keir dismissing him as a ‘trivial’ trickster and his deputy Angela Rayner branding the Tories ‘scum’.

Allies of would-be Labour leader Andy Burnham (pictured) have given Sir Keir Starmer a year to prove he can lead the party to victory at the next election

On the eve of this week’s Tory conference in Manchester, the mayor – who pointedly distanced himself from Ms Rayner’s jibe – unveiled a ‘positive offer’ to deliver Mr Johnson’s key pledge to level-up the UK’s economy. And amid criticisms from Labour politicians that the levelling-up plan is meaningless, he also offered to show what the policy could mean.

Mr Burnham, dubbed ‘King in the North’ last year for standing up to Mr Johnson over Covid restrictions, declared: ‘I can define a piece of levelling-up for the Government and also I can deliver it.

‘And that’s the message I will be giving them this weekend.’

The ex-MP and Cabinet Minister’s levelling-up plan involves seeking £100 million a year to take control of Manchester’s transport system and deliver cheaper ‘London-level fares’ to the region’s 2.8 million residents. Mr Burnham, who has made no secret of his ambitions to lead Labour, told the BBC: ‘Let’s work together – let’s level-up this place together.’

They reignited doubts about Sir Keir’s (pictured) leadership by saying he must be ‘three or four points’ ahead of Boris Johnson’s Tories in 12 months’ time

However, his offer to Mr Johnson comes amid anger by Starmer supporters at Mr Burnham’s alleged ‘posturing’ and reports that the party leader’s office finds his repeated interventions ‘unhelpful’.

Last night, one senior Labour MP privately suggested Mr Burnham’s gesture was all part of his long-term leadership ambitions and to show ‘how he could deliver in government’.

Mr Burnham, though, has made clear he will finish his term as mayor in 2024 – a pledge that bars him from a leadership contest until then, as by law he cannot be both mayor and an MP.

The Labour conference last week was dominated off-stage by fears that Sir Keir was not the man to close the gap with a Tory government beset by domestic difficulties. That sparked speculation that he could be replaced before the next election.

One poll last week put Labour still eight points behind the Tories even as the fuel crisis struck.

Last night, some Labour MPs said the Burnham camp was only stating the obvious in saying that Sir Keir had to improve the party’s fortunes before an election that could be held as early as 2023.

One said: ‘If we’re still in this position now, trailing behind an incompetent Tory government, obviously Keir will face questions over his leadership.’

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