PM to give more power to Northern regions

The Prime Minister is set to pledge that the government will give even more powers to people, businesses and political leaders across Northern regions.

Speaking in South Yorkshire, Boris Johnson is expected to reiterate that he remains committed to delivering the Sheffield City Region Deal – and to opening up negotiations with Leeds and West Yorkshire.

As part of the renewed commitment, the government will also create a new Northern Powerhouse growth body to drive forward the region’s economy, and with the powers to bring together major organisations working in the region.

The Prime Minister has stated several times that one of his top domestic priorities will be to give more powers to local leaders to ensure communities are in control over the things that matter to them, such as transport, infrastructure and housing.

Johnson is expected to say: “It is time that we gave more people a say over the places where they live, and it is time that we gave you the proper ability to run things your way. We are going to maximise the power of the north. And we are going to make sure that it is people here who are in control over the things that matter to them.

“If we succeed in levelling up opportunity across our country, and if we truly put the power in your hands, then I believe you will do for the North – and for our whole country - what the railways did two centuries ago. That is the true potential of this Northern Powerhouse Partnership. And this is a government that will back you to deliver it.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The Prime Minister needs to stand on the side of genuine devolution, with more powers for mayors like Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis and their colleagues and deals for areas from Cheshire to much of Yorkshire which have so far missed out entirely.

“Any new growth body for the North should be accountable to and driven by those elected Mayors and civic leaders with a genuine mandate to represent the public, and have serious financial powers. The causes of the Brexit vote in the North were not so much about Europe in many places, but more about feeling a loss of control. If the North is to take back control it must be the Northern Powerhouse that shapes its own destiny. However much we trust Jake Berry MP as our voice at the Cabinet table, relying on Whitehall to back us and our plans to rebalance the country is not enough.
“From leading a revolution to decarbonise the country’s energy needs whilst growing our industry, backing Northern manufacturing, or closing the gap in how the most disadvantaged in our schools do, the Convention of the North will prioritise addressing productivity and unlocking economic potential. The Prime Minister should take note.”

Johnson’s call follows Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram calling on the government to take urgent action in five key areas and give the North the power and resources to get it firing on all cylinders.