Andy Burnham has just announced he’s leaving the shadow cabinet. He said he was doing so to concentrate on his mayoral bid, telling Labour’s conference:
‘That’s why I can tell you all first today that I have asked Jeremy to plan a new Shadow Cabinet without me, although I will of course stay until it is in place.’
He also took a pop at Westminster (‘Westminster over decades has failed the North of England’) and said the turmoil in the Labour party over the last year had made him ‘profoundly sad’. But he also – tried – to use his speech to defend himself. Burnham has been accused of flip-flopping all over the place recently. He came under fire over the summer for being one of the few members of the shadow cabinet not to walk away. Some said that was because Burnham lacked a backbone in failing to stand up to Corbyn. Yet today he did his best to say that wasn’t the case:
‘I have given my all to this Party and always put its interests above those of factions and personalities. And I have given exactly the same loyalty to all four of the Labour leaders I have served. Some say that makes me inconsistent. But, you know what Conference? I have an old-fashioned belief – that a Labour Government of any kind is a million times better for my constituents in Leigh than any Tory Government and that is more likely to happen if Labour is united.’
And so, having ridden the Corbyn wave over the summer, Burnham flip flops off into the sunshine.