Andy Burnham: A message to the people of Leigh

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham
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MP Andy Burnham has said he will not stand for re-election even if he does not win the race to become Greater Manchester mayor.

He issued the following statement on Thursday: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that I confirm that, after 16 years as the Member of Parliament for Leigh, I will not be seeking to stand at the forthcoming General Election.

"I owe everything to the people of this area. For someone who grew up close by, it has been an incredible privilege to serve this great town as its fifth Labour MP.

"Whilst I have not always got everything right, I can honestly say that I have given this job my all and done my best to put Leigh on the map. I hope you will allow me to take some quiet satisfaction from the fact that, while the Leigh I inherited was struggling in the Championship, the Leigh I leave is proudly Super League!

"Along this journey, Lord Peter Smith and the members of Leigh Labour Party have always been there for me and I want to thank them all for their unstinting support.

"I am proud of many of the things I have achieved during my time in Westminster. But I have also seen at close quarters how our centralised and still part-unelected political system works better for some places than it does for others. During my 16 years of travelling up and down the West Coast Main Line, I have seen the North-South divide widen significantly.

"We are living through a crisis in politics and the Westminster system is in my view a major part of the problem. We could hold as many General Elections as we like and yet Westminster would still be structurally incapable of developing a real response to the deep-rooted issues revealed by last year's Referendum. Real change is needed rather just a change of faces.

"I believe the arrival of devolution in England represents the best chance we will ever get to secure a more equal country and make politics work better for people. That is why I have decided to devote myself to it.

"In standing to be the first elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, I am of course still seeking to represent Leigh on the national stage, alongside the other towns and cities of Greater Manchester. That is why I am still in the position of asking for your vote next month. Some things will never change!

"Through all the ups and downs of the last 16 years, the people of Leigh have shown incredible loyalty and friendship to me and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You know me well enough by now to know that, whatever happens in the future, I will always be loyal to Leigh."