MP Lisa Nandy blasts Tory neighbor over ‘Lexit’ plan to split Leigh from Wigan council

A Tory MP for Greater Manchester has been accused of ‘losing the plot’ by a neighboring Labor politician during his ‘Lexit’ campaign to split the town of Leigh from the borough of Wigan. Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said the government should try to tackle rising inflation rather than ‘trying to build walls between Wigan and Leigh’ under the plan proposed by the Leigh MP , James Grundy.

Mr Grundy, who was elected in 2019, sought the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his campaign. Leigh has been part of the Borough of Wigan since local government reorganization in 1974, but grumbling about the town losing its identity to its larger neighbor since then has never gone away.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions last November, Boris Johnson vowed to do ‘everything he can’ to help his Tory colleague ‘escape’ Wigan’s control following Mr Grundy’s question on what that could be done. The Leigh MP has held talks with Leveling Up secretary Michael Gove about ‘Lexit’ and said the talks were positive – but at an early stage.

READ MORE: ‘Families are worried about how they will put food on their children’s plates’ – The reality of poverty in Greater Manchester in 2022

‘There’s been a long-standing feeling that Wigan Council doesn’t care about the Leigh end of the borough,’ Mr Grundy said recently. But, speaking to The Northern Agenda podcast, Ms Nandy, who is the secretary of Labour’s Shadow Leveling Up, dismissed the idea that the Labour-led Wigan council was doing nothing for Leigh.

Leigh MP James Grundy outside a local business in his constituency
Leigh MP James Grundy outside a local business in his constituency

She said: “There’s always been a healthy rivalry between us and I’m perfectly happy to be involved in that too. But there’s been investment in things like the Turnpike Gallery in Leigh, the arts and crafts revival. the culture that the council is trying to kickstart, with a little help now from the Arts Council, has been very focused on Leigh as the main driver of that.”

Listen to the full interview with Lisa Nandy on The Northern Agenda podcast

And she added: “I think it’s worth saying that there’s a bit of an opinion in government that James lost the plot with some of this. He brought it up in the middle of “a crisis for many families and businesses across the country. And I think the people of Leigh, frankly, would rather the government start acting on high inflation than try to build walls between Wigan and Leigh. “

Ms Nandy told the podcast that “Leigh is not part of Wigan, Leigh is a place in its own right with a proud history and a proud identity and a contribution to make”. And she added: “And while there are a lot of synergies and similarities between us, Leigh’s strengths and potential are distinct and unique. And over the years in politics there has been a debate as to whether if you can regenerate areas taking what is known as a space-blind approach.

“It’s an approach that was very common in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in the United States. The idea, pushed by people like Ronald Reagan, that if you took a place-based approach, what you end up doing was only helping the richest people in the poorest areas.

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“In fact, I think it’s now widely recognized that it’s nonsense, that taking a place-based approach helps you realize the unique strengths and potential of each place. And, what we have been in this country for a very long time now, large parts of the country have just been written off for their ability to contribute to our future.

“That’s what I’m saying needs to change, we’re not going to undo the contribution people are making anymore, whether it’s in Leigh or Wigan, or any other part of this country, we should be investing in the potential that is And the best way to do that is not just to get fair investment decisions, but to put the power back in local hands so people can shape those outcomes themselves.”

Mr Grundy has previously said that when he spoke to his constituents he felt very anti-Wigan Council sentiment. And when the Local Democracy Reporting Service recently interviewed downtown residents, some described feeling Leigh was overlooked.

Mr. Grundy was approached to comment on Ms. Nandy’s claims.


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