George Galloway could challenge Andy Burnham for Greater Manchester mayor | George Galloway

George Galloway is considering running against Andy Burnham to become mayor of Greater Manchester, just two weeks after being elected MP for Rochdale.

He confirmed to the Guardian that he was considering challenging Burnham in May’s local elections after telling the Manchester Evening News: “If I stand, it would be on the basis of a better deal for the towns surrounding Manchester.

“Andy Burnham was seduced by the undeniably bright lights of the metropolis. But it’s quite dark and dour here in ‘Greater’ Manchester.

Galloway, 69, is set to quit his post as MP for Rochdale – a role he has held for 14 days – if he decides to enter the Greater Manchester mayoral race.

The move would trigger a second parliamentary by-election in the city, adding another chaotic chapter to one of the most turbulent campaigns in recent memory.

It was not immediately clear whether Galloway’s intentions were serious or whether this was another example of his bluster.

He said on Friday, however, that he was sincere: “Oh yeah, yeah, definitely,” he said, before declining to comment further – “especially to the Guardian”.

The surprise comes three days after his inaugural speech as MP for Rochdale, in which he pledged to defend a town “that has been abandoned by the state and is increasingly being abandoned by the Mayor of Greater Manchester”.

Rochdale Borough Council Labor leader Neil Emmott said: “Just a fortnight after being elected, it is simply unimaginable that Mr Galloway would consider sidelining the people of Rochdale so easily.

“The fact that he would so casually consider leaving office to pursue another role speaks volumes about his commitment to our city.”

“As we quickly learn in Rochdale, George Galloway is further ahead than Blackpool, as the saying goes.”

A spokesperson for Burnham said: “Two weeks to the day after being elected, Rochdale’s new MP is now saying he wants another job. Well, he’ll have to choose because he can’t do both.

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“He couldn’t have made it clearer if he tried that Rochdale is just a place he used for his own purposes.

“He also does not seem to realize that Rochdale will see the biggest change for 40 years a week on Sunday, with its buses returning to public control – an inconvenient fact which destroys the whole basis of Mr Galloway’s candidacy for the town hall.”

Galloway, a former Labor MP, was elected MP for Rochdale as an independent after calling the by-election a “referendum on Gaza” and winning the support of much of the town’s Muslim community.

The Labor Party abandoned its campaign after its candidate, Azhar Ali, made inflammatory comments about Israel.

Galloway holds a majority of 5,697 votes in the seat Labor has held since 2005. It is his seventh parliamentary victory in a political career in which he has represented four towns and three parties in four decades, equaling the record of Winston Churchill.

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