Journalists can’t help themselves. It’s obligatory. Andy Burnham gets asked every time he’s interviewed whether he wants to return to Westminster as Labour leader. The mayor of Greater Manchester smiles knowingly and then feigns a wince. His response runs along the lines of “I love Manchester, Keir should be prime minister, but I wouldn’t rule it out”.
Lately, the bus-franchising, government-thrashing King in the North has been more definitive. He’s twice rubbished the idea. He said he wouldn’t stand when speculation sprouted in the lead up to the West Lancashire by-election in the autumn. In January he confirmed he would run for a third term as mayor in May next year – potentially the same day as the general election.
But now the director of Burnham’s mayoral office, Kevin Lee, has said on LinkedIn that he’s looking for another job. “Anyone fancy offering me a job? No issues, just a final change,” he said, although he appears to have since deleted the post.
Bit of a stretch, I hear you. But Lee has worked for Burnham since his ill-fated first run for the party leadership in 2010. He’s part of the old guard, the Mancunian ancien régime. His departure would lead to an office reshuffle. So why go now, especially if there are “no issues”? The question is whether Lee is looking for a new job because his boss is doing the same.
[See also: Bev Craig: “For the vast majority, the economy simply isn’t good enough”]