Less than 10 days ago he said campaigners arguing for a second referendum “inflamed this idea of an arrogant political class”. Now Andy Burnham says he WILL back another vote if no-deal Brexit became the only option.
In his first speech in Westminster since swapping the green benches for the Mayor’s office in Manchester, on Wednesday the former Labour minister will argue that a so called “people’s vote” should be on the table.
“As soon as it becomes clear that the MPs against a no-deal outcome cannot unite around a plan, I would urge all Greater Manchester MPs to support a call on the EU for an extension of Article 50 beyond the March deadline as the next way of stopping No Deal," he will say.
“This isn’t about frustrating Brexit. It is about getting Brexit right.
“If that fails and we are left on the cliff-edge of No Deal with no other options, then and only then would I endorse the call for a People’s Vote on the proposed no-deal departure and encourage our MPs to do the same.”
At the end of August Andy Burnham called the idea of a second vote “dangerous” and warned his former colleagues in Parliament that it would “not heal...divides. I think it can only exacerbate them.”
But in London today he’ll argue that despite the dangers, another referendum could be the only option.
“A price would undoubtedly be paid in terms of social cohesion,” he will say.
“But it would be a necessary one to protect the damage to people’s jobs, families and lives.”
Like most Labour politicians in the North, Andy Burnham voted to remain in the EU but finds himself representing an area that voted to leave.
He’s previously argued that those calling for a second vote are part of an “arrogant political class” ignoring the cries for radical political change the referendum represented.
But the Greater Manchester Mayor will use his speech to argue a no-deal Brexit will be “a disaster” for the region he now represents and must be stopped “at all costs.”
“So I believe we need to build in Greater Manchester a broad, cross-party campaign against No Deal with the aim of stopping it at all costs," he will say.
He’ll also use the speech to push for more devolution away from Whitehall, arguing that when Northern voters opted “to take back control” it was “as much an instruction for Westminster to review its relationship with the rest of England as it was for it to review its relationship with Brussels”.