THE LABOUR Party has selected former government minister Liam Byrne to take on Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street in regional mayor elections on May 7.
Mr Byrne, whose infamous note ‘there’s no money left’ ended his tenure as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2010, beat regional candidates Pete Lowe and Salma Yaqoob.
In a short statement confirming his selection, West Midlands Labour said: “We look forward to campaigning with Liam and his team to deliver a Labour victory.”
He is considered the more centrist candidate, with the backing of the Labour Co-op group and the GMB union.
Hard-left campaign group Momentum had endorsed Stop the War Coalition co-leader Salma Yaqoob, and Dudley councillor Pete Lowe was backed by public sector union UNISON.
Mr Byrne was a minister under then Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose tenure was damaged by the 2008 financial crash and ended with the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition coming to power two year later.
Mr Byrne has pledged to make homelessness reduction a cornerstone of his 2020 mayoral campaign.
The MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill said: “I’m so proud that members from across our region and our party have united behind our campaign for West Midlands Mayor.
“This is the first election since Brexit. The first election in a new, uncertain world. We need strong leadership to build a bold new future for our region.
“With the pioneering spirit of our history, we must now become the centre of Britain’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution.’
“We were once the workshop of the world. Now we must become the workshop of a green planet. Becoming Britain’s first zero carbon city region and bringing to our region the green manufacturing jobs of the future, low cost solar energy for our citizens, new forests and clean air.
“If we’re to end the shame of homelessness we need nothing short of a green home building revolution. To end rough sleeping and to give young families their first foot on the housing ladder.
“Above all what I’ve learned as the MP for one of Britain’s most diverse communities is that we’ll achieve nothing unless we pull together as good neighbours.
“Our diversity is our strength. But we achieve most when we stick together and look out for each other. Communities that work together are stronger, and safer. Our young people should lead the way. And we need to support them with youth workers back in every neighbourhood.
“As Regional Minister for the West Midlands, I drove through the plan that transformed New Street train station. As West Midlands Mayor, I will fight every day for well paid jobs, to end the climate crisis and to give our young people the best possible start in life.”
The first West MIdlands region mayor elections took place three years ago, after the post and the West Midlands Combined Authority – chaired by the mayor – was established under the government’s so-called devolution agenda.
The Green Party candidate is Kathryn Downes.