Andy Burnham says it is unfair to ask cities in region to settle for what they are given

Northern England should not have to choose between projects when regions around London do not, the mayor of Manchester has told MPs.

Speaking to the transport select committee last week, Andy Burnham said the region was continually being asked to take decisions that London and the South-east was not.

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Andy Burnham giving evidence to MPs earlier this week

He said: “Why is the North always forced to trade off? London and the South-east has never had to choose. If levelling up is to mean something when it comes to transport, it should mean that the North of England doesn’t have to trade off those things.”

Speaking at the committee’s inquiry session into the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), the government’s plan for rail network investment in the North and Midlands, Burnham said suggestions from Tory MP Karl McCartney that the North should simply be grateful for what it was given were unfair.

He said: “You are asserting that we should just be grateful for what we are given.

“But how about get what we were promised, because it’s actually your government that promised us all of that.”

The plan has been widely criticised by leaders from the North after the eastern leg of HS2 to Leeds was dropped and high speed lines connecting the region’s major cities were scaled back, skipping Bradford altogether.

McCartney had asked: “Do you understand the meaning of the phrase ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’?

“Do you think that your strategy might be slightly schizophrenic? In private, saying ‘please, sir, can I have some more?’ like Oliver, and then coming out in public and trying to beat the government up like The Incredible Hulk?”

Burnham added the IRP constituted a “once in a 200-year decision” and warned “the North of England will have second best for 200 years or more” if the plan went ahead as published.