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Andy Burnham accused of undermining Yvette Cooper's attempt to build national consensus on refugee crisis by sending 'unedifying' message

'Someone should tell him not everything is about the Labour leadership' - party sources say MPs who previously backed Burnham are rethinking their decision

Matt Dathan
Thursday 03 September 2015 12:31 BST
Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham
Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham (Getty Images)

A bitter row over the Syrian refugee crisis has erupted in the Labour leadership election after Andy Burnham was accused of undermining Yvette Cooper's efforts to build a national consensus by squabbling over who was the first candidate to demand a change of Government policy.

A source from a rival camp accused him of sending an “unedifying” and divisive message to the public after he claimed on Sky News that he “called the day before [Yvette Cooper] for Britain to take our fair share”.

He then took to Twitter to add: "I’ve been saying all summer that the government should be doing more, I’ve been saying that through the hustings.”

Labour sources say some MPs who had backed Andy Burnham are now considering switching to Yvette Cooper (Charlie Forgham Bailey)

Another senior Labour party source revealed that his actions over the last few days had led some MPs who had backed Mr Burnham to rethink their decision and are considering voting for Ms Cooper instead.

"Someone should tell him not everything is about the Labour leadership,” the source said. “Andy seems to have gone backwards in this campaign while Yvette has been more and more impressive - particularly her stance on refugees.”

Ms Cooper made a speech on Tuesday calling on Mr Cameron to take in almost 10,000 Syrian refugees, suggesting this number could be achieved if every town in the UK accepted just 10 families each.

A source from her camp said: "Senior Parliamentary Labour party colleagues [are] saying to me - 'This is getting stupid - Andy has now crow-barred himself onto Sky with a mixed message about an emergency debate he can't force. It’s so unedifying - we're trying to build a national consensus on refugees.

“I can't quite actually believe Andy today - there are times when there are more important things going on than even labour leadership elections."

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