Andy Burnham’s testing confusion

Andy Burnham's testing confusion
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Andy Burnham has been undergoing something of a transformation in recent years. Gone is the Cambridge-educated career politician who underperformed in successive Labour leadership contests. Now he's reborn as the king of the north, an omnipotent Manchester mayor with fans across the capital and the country.  

His pugilist credentials have been honed by savvy social media skills, with Burnham always keen to take a pithy pop at Westminster/the Tories/London for another egregious slight visited on the north by those avaricious creatures down south. 

But could honest Andy's love of Twitter be his downfall? For the high-flying mayor is so keen to comment on every passing development that he appears to have tripped up on today's Sunday Times reports that the government could soon charge for Covid testing. Burnham had a succinct tweet at the ready: 'Keep lateral flow tests free!' 

Of course, such tests are not actually 'free' but rather paid for by taxpayers' money. Still, Burnham's reaction might be a natural response — had he, er, not poured cold water on the costs of providing such a system in the first place. For the mayor tweeted just last March in support of nurses receiving a pay rise by contrasting the proposed £3.50 rise with the £37 billion bill for providing NHS Test and Trace.

How exactly is the government expected to provide 'free' lateral flow tests, without resorting to using billions of taxpayers' money? Answers on a postcard please...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this articlePolitics