Lee Anderson slams Andy Burnham after Mayor takes swipe at Tory chief’s comments

Andy Burnham urges Labour to ‘be bolder’

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham has warned Britain is heading for the “ugliest” election in living memory, during a sit-down interview at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Speaking at the Stand New Town theatre, he said: “Let’s be honest, I think we’re heading to the most unpleasant, divisive general election we will ever see in our lifetimes”.

He accused the Tories of “betting the shop on culture wars” and claimed Rishi Sunak is “going to make it as toxic as they can make them. They’re already doing it”.

Mr Burnham cited Tory vice chair Lee Anderson’s comments that migrants who refused to board the Bibby Stockholm barge should “f*** off back to France”.

He claimed: “You see a rhetoric coming out from them that I don’t think I would ever see in my political lifetime. F off back to France?”

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“Can you imagine an elected representative of the Conservative party in the British Parliament using language like that? Did you ever think you would see that happen? Honestly, I can’t imagine. And yet he’s deputy chairman of the bloody party.”

Hitting back, Mr Anderson delivered a brutal put-down, pointing out: “I have never called anyone Scum in the Chamber, I have never said we should lynch a female Tory MP and I have never referred to a political party as scum and homophobic racists.

“These are the words of Labour MPs and Andy’s friends.

“Perhaps Andy is still a little bit dizzy after being caught travelling at 78mph in a 40mph zone and having to pay a two grand fine. Either that or he is desperate for attention.”

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Mr Burnham said he believes the public’s mood is that “there’s a need for a rewiring” of the state, and said “the country’s listening” to Labour.

He said he hoped there would be a Labour government led by Keir Starmer after the election, that brings “hope and that kind of radical change to the way the country is run”.

He also called for the abolition of party whipping in the Commons, a system he claims sees MPs treated like ‘school kids’.

Mr Burnham said he would prefer MPs be left to use their “best judgement” during votes, which would allow voters to hold MPs “in better esteem”.

“The whips system, the effect of it, is to take power off elected representatives, and concentrate it in the hands of the unelected advisers and civil servants, 50 or 100 or so at the heart of government.”

He also calls for a move to proportional representation at elections, something he says he now backs with “the zeal of a convert”.

The Fringe festival has produced a number of political headlines so far, with SNP First Minister Humza Yousaf being heckled twice during an interview, and former SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes joking that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ could be easier to witness than a second Scottish independence referendum.

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