Rotheram warns Labour government won’t have ‘magic wand’

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has warned Labour “will not have a magic wand” if it comes into power at the next general election.

Addressing a Centre for Cities fringe event at the Labour Party conference, the former MP said his party would be “constrained by what we inherit” should it control the House of Commons when the next national ballot is called. A general election must be called no later than January 2025 under the current system.

Mr Rotheram, who represented Liverpool Walton from 2010 to 2017 also told an audience at Tate Liverpool he felt how the decision around HS2 was made by the Prime Minister last week was “so disrespectful.”

Labour has gathered in the city this week in what could be the last party conference before the country goes to the polls to elect the next Parliament and subsequently government. Optimism is riding high among delegates, with expectation Keir Starmer will become Prime Minister.

Mr Rotheram, whose time in Parliament was spent in opposition before becoming Metro Mayor, issued a warning to the audience that a Labour victory would not necessarily mean an immediate change in fortunes for the country. He said, “A Labour government won’t be a magic wand.”

The Mayor added how the party would “be constrained by what we inherit” amid 13 years of Conservative rule. It was because of this, Mr Rotheram said the way the country found itself was “not a healthy position.”

Reflecting on the news the Prime Minister confirmed he would scrap the northern leg of HS2 at the Conservative Party conference last week, Mr Rotheram said the way it had been done was “so disrespectful” and he hoped a Labour government would end “London knows best nonsense.”

The former MP said he had long been doubtful of HS2 ever reaching the north, saying he would hold debates with colleagues. He said, “I said, ‘It’s never coming up north, it will never come here.”

Mr Rotheram, who is up for a third term as Mayor in 2024, said he had spoken to Transport Secretary Mark Harper MP since the decision was taken in Manchester. Asked why as a Labour member he had gone to the Tory event, he said, “I wanted to take the fight, I wanted to look them in the eye and tell them they were wrong.”

Image: Steve Rotheram at the Centre For Cities event at Labour conference. Credit: David Humphreys

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