John McDonnell has endorsed Liam Byrne’s bid to be the Labour candidate in the 2020 West Midlands metro mayoral contest.
Officially announcing his support for the Birmingham Hodge Hill MP in a video, the Shadow Chancellor said: “For years Liam has been campaigning on issues like hunger, homelessness, and for all those people who have suffered so badly at the hands of the Tories after nine years of austerity.
“I believe he’s the sort of person we need to lead our campaign and implement the policies that Labour will be implementing in government and at the local level as well. He’s got my support.”
Left-wing Labour members may be surprised by the party leadership’s support for Byrne, who co-founded the Blairite group Progress and is not seen as a Corbynite.
He was once best known as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who left the note “I’m afraid there is no money”, which was found by his successor David Laws and weaponised by the coalition government.
But Byrne has been working in his local community to support food banks and his plan for the West Midlands promotes many ideas backed by the leadership, such as a ‘Green New Deal’. He is on the frontbench, serving as shadow digital minister in Tom Watson’s team.
Following a Skwawkbox report, Momentum chair Jon Lansman recently denied that he or his organisation would be endorsing Byrne’s bid.
No other candidate has yet come forward in an effort to become Labour’s candidate, though there has been criticism of the fact that all current metro mayors are men and only three directly-elected mayors in England are women.