Andy Burnham was left astonished in today’s Integrated Rail Plan inquiry after being asked by Tory MP Karl McCartney if he knew the meaning of the phrase ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’.
The Greater Manchester Mayor made an appearance at the inquiry to discuss funding for transport in the north of England when Mr McCartney took the opportunity to ask Mr Burnham a question.
His appearance comes after plans for the HS2 train line to reach Leeds was scrapped by the Government in a huge U-turn.
The Integrated Rail Plan replaced the original plan, with Mr Burnham claiming that the new project would leave the North with train services which are “second-best for 200 years”.
What did Karl McCartney say to Andy Burnham?
Mr McCartney got straight to the question and asked Mr Burnham: “Do you understand the meaning of the phrase ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’?”
Mr Burnham, looking perplexed at first, replied: “I do understand it, yes.”
After clarifying his knowledge Mr Burnham was then asked by Mr McCartney: “Do you think your strategy might be quite schizophrenic - in private saying ‘please sir, can I have some more?’ like Oliver and then coming out in public trying to beat the government up like The Incredible Hulk?
“Do you think that’s delivering for you and the people of Manchester?”
Mr Burnham rebutted the questions from Mr McCartney, replying: “You’re kind of saying that we should just get what we’re given. But how about get what we were promised?
“It was your government that promised us all of this.”
What else did Andy Burnham say during the inquiry?
Instead, the government made plans for a transport link between Warrington and Marsden, bypassing Yorkshire altogether.
During the hearing to the Transport Select Committee, Mr Burnham criticised the decision to do so.
He said: “These are once-in-200-years decisions for the country and particularly for the North of England.
“If we get second-best then the North of England will have second-best for 200 years or more.
“The importance of this can’t be overstated.”
He also claimed that the government had not taken into account the levelling up impact of not extending the line any further nother, which he said had been revealed in a recently published technical annex.
Although the HS2 line will not be extended to Leeds, the Crewe to Manchester extension is still planned to go ahead.
While the Manchester Mayor admitted that the city does “proportionately better” than other areas in the North, he stated that “better is not what we should settle for”.
Mr Burnham added: “We don’t get the connectivity to Bradford – that’s a critical neighbour city for us – nor the full benefits of the capacity and connectivity to Leeds that we’ve been promised.”
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