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The north face: why Andy Burnham’s fight for Manchester could shake up how Britain is run

In channelling his city's rage, the mayor has reset his reputation—and posed disruptive questions about the governance of the UK

By Tom Clark   December 2020

illustration by tim mcdonagh

In this, the year of the virus, there have been dramatic news moments aplenty, courtesy of everyone from Prince Charles to Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Until the autumn, however, truly political moments were in short supply: after years of Brexit wrangling and a Christmas election, the pandemic seemed more of a human and a technical story. All this changed abruptly on 15th October on the steps of Manchester Central Library.

At first blush, what unfolded looked like a piece of anti-theatre: an ordinary-looking man in a…

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