Andrew Murray “Andy” Burnham (born 7 January 1970) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the region of Leigh (Manchester area) since 2001 and the Shadow Secretary of State for Health since 2011.
Burnham was born in Liverpool and educated at local schools and graduated with a degree in English from the University of Cambridge. He worked as a researcher from 1994 to 1997, then worked for Britain’s state-run healthcare system, the National Health Service Confederation in 1997 and as an administrator for the Football Task Force in 1998. The same year, he became a special adviser to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith, a position he held until 2001.
He was a member of the Health Select Committee from 2001 until 2003, and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary(PPS) to Home Secretary David Blunkett until 2004, and then worked for Education Secretary Ruth Kelly. He was promoted to serve in the Government after the 2005 election as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Home Office. In 2006, Burnham was moved to become a Minister of State at the Department of Health.
When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, Burnham was promoted to Chief Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held until 2008, when he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. In 2009, he was promoted again to become Secretary of State for Health. After the Labour Party’s defeat in the 2010 general election, Burnham was a candidate in the 2010 Labour leadership election, coming fourth out of five candidates, states Wikipedia. The contest was won by Ed Miliband.
Burnham is the frontrunner to become leader of the opposition Labour Party, and he threw his weight behind the idea of a referendum on the country’s EU membership. He said he would demand it took place in 2016 if he becomes party leader, states Reuters.
Burnham’s promise to back a referendum is a break with the left-leaning Labour Party’s existing stance, which has been to only back a referendum if there was a substantial further shift of powers from London to Brussels.
He said the vote needed to be in 2016, earlier than the Conservative government’s current timetable for 2017, to clear up uncertainty for British business, as he launched a leadership campaign with a series of interviews on Sunday.
“Under my leadership the Labour party will not be a grudging presence on that stage. We will now embrace (the referendum.) It should be brought forward to 2016,” Burnham told the Observer newspaper Sunday.
“It is not going to be in anybody’s interest for this to rumble on through this parliament,” he added.