Andy Burnham says he understands case for independence from Westminster better after being Manchester Mayor
Andy Burnham has said that he has developed a new understanding of the devolved nation’s desire for more autonomy from Westminster after being the Mayor of Manchester for five years.
The former Secretary of State for Health said that he now believed that “this country, the UK needs to be completely rewired, there needs to be a redistribution of power”.
He added that he now also had “more of a perspective on the Scottish independence debate” than he had in his previous role as an MP.
Mr Burnham said he was still opposed to Scottish independence but that the country should have “as close as you can get” to home rule.
He was interviewed by former Labour MSP Neil Findlay at an Edinburgh Fringe event on Tuesday.
He said: “I understand how, for Scotland, just saying: ‘OK, the status quo but with a bit more devolution’ is not an answer if there’s to be another referendum.
“You have to have a much better alternative next time and that for me is a completely rewired Westminster where I would say a proportional representation for the Commons, a Senate of the nations and regions elected to replace the House of Lords.
“Much more devolution out of the whole thing, as close as you can get to home rule for Scotland I would say.”
Within Scotland, he said more power should be devolved from Edinburgh to local communities.
Setting out his constitutional views further, he said: “I never want to see a border across the top of the north of England and Scotland in my lifetime.”
The Greater Manchester mayor later discussed his dispute with the Scottish Government over the Covid travel ban imposed in the summer of 2021.
He said this was done without any notification or discussion with his office, adding: “What message do people in the Scottish Government think that sent to people in our place? Basically, ‘you’re not welcome’.”
He continued: “We expect the Tories to treat the north of England with contempt, but that was the Scottish National Party treating the north of England with contempt.”
Saying he was meeting with Glasgow council’s leader Susan Aitken on Wednesday, he added: “I asked to meet the First Minister while I was here and I haven’t had a reply.”
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