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McDonnell backs Byrne for West Midlands mayor

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Labour’s former chief secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne has emerged as the party’s first potential candidate for next year’s West Midlands mayoral election and has been endorsed by shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

Mr Byrne, who is currently on Labour’s frontbench as a shadow digital minister, said he decided to challenge West Midland Combined Authority mayor Andy Street (Con) after recently finding a man lying next to his wheelchair wearing a hospital gown in central Birmingham and discovering he had been there for two days.

“This was the moment I decided to stand for mayor of the West Midlands, he said. “I simply cannot be a bystander when I see the very poorest wait for ambulances while the current West Midlands mayor rides around in a limo to visit interesting projects.”

In a video posted on Youtube yesterday, Mr McDonnell said Mr Byrne had “the experience and values to put Labour policies into action” and initiate the “democratisation of decision-making”.

Mr Byrne served as chief to the Treasury in Gordon Brown’s government and is known for leaving a note to his successor David Laws (Lib Dem) in 2010 which said “I’m afraid there is no money left”.

Andy Street has been contacted for comment.

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