Yorkshire needs Boris as PM to disrupt the stagnant status quo - Tom Lees

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves his home in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 21, 2019. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will battle to become the new leader of the Conservative party, and the next prime minister, as the Tory leadership contest moves to a ballot of the 160,000 Conservative members. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves his home in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday June 21, 2019. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will battle to become the new leader of the Conservative party, and the next prime minister, as the Tory leadership contest moves to a ballot of the 160,000 Conservative members. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
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Barring a meteoric gaffe from Boris which causes his own campaign to veer off the rails it looks like he is set to be our next Prime Minister.

His leadership rivals have been keen to point out how he once said “**** business” as a sign that he is not a true Conservative and a threat to the free market system.

A European Union flag in front of Big Ben, as Remain supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the EU in the wake of Brexit.

A European Union flag in front of Big Ben, as Remain supporters demonstrate in Parliament Square, London, to show their support for the EU in the wake of Brexit.

What people often forget is that there is a big difference between being pro-business and pro-free market.

Many of the chattering classes often forget this. There is also a big difference between an entrepreneur who risks everything to be a success and a career manager promoted into a top role.

Most people will rightly sympathise with Boris’s views when they see people like the former Persimmon CEO Jeff Fairburn claiming an eye wateringly greedy £75m bonus while many of my generation struggle to get on the housing ladder or when they see workers at Amazon fulfilment centres not being allowed to take bathroom breaks for fear of being sacked.

In those situations “**** business” is a natural response.

Boris Johnson leaving his home in south London, ahead of ballots which will see the contenders for the Conservative party leadership reduced to two by the end of the day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 20, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Boris Johnson leaving his home in south London, ahead of ballots which will see the contenders for the Conservative party leadership reduced to two by the end of the day. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 20, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

And as we know, big business can sometimes throw their weight around to unfairly dominate a market, lobby for rules to be changed so that cements their incumbent advantage or get much more air time in the press than they should.

We need to remember most businesses are not massive multi-national behemoths.

They’re small and medium-sized businesses with entrepreneurial leaders trying to provide for their families and local communities.

We have 400,000 businesses in Yorkshire, 99 per cent of which are SMEs.

Only 6 per cent of businesses export anything to the EU so are not really interested in our future trading relationship, and are much less reliant on migration from our continental neighbours to fill vacancies and skills gaps.

Yorkshire businesses need a prime minister and chancellor who have an energetic and reforming zeal to disrupt the stagnant status quo where it hampers growth and our talented entrepreneurs.

This week he pledged to deliver full fibre broadband for all – including our rural communities – within six years of becoming prime minister.

This improved digital connectivity would open up new career opportunities and give many businesses the tools to start and grow.

Many of us have argued that poor transport links hold us back. You should be able to switch jobs from Manchester to Leeds or vice versa without feeling the need to move house because of such appalling trains or congestion on the M62.

So it was good that when Boris spoke to Conservative association chairmen the other day he spoke of “reprofiling” HS2 funds to prioritise Northern Powerhouse Rail and the second leg of HS2 which would be a game changer for Yorkshire.

The North has lower skill levels compared with the rest of the UK and our more deprived areas are falling further behind, meaning business can struggle to find the future workforce they need.

A report from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership last year found that northern 16 year-olds receiving free school meals achieved an average grade score of 39.9 which was 6.5 points below their London peers.

So it was encouraging to hear Boris speaking about tackling educational disparities which has caused some areas of the country to feel left behind by committing to a 5 per cent increase in the minimum level of funding for each secondary school pupil.

And finally, and probably most importantly, we need someone who can “big up” the North on the international stage.

One of the great successes of Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese in Manchester was how they put the city on the global map. Something which Roger Marsh, the chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, is starting to do for our great region.

It helps create new high quality job opportunities, draws inward investment and major international events.

One of the things that Boris did so well when he was Mayor of London was bang the drum on the international stage.

As we leave the EU and forge our own path on the international stage we need a charismatic leader who can shout from the rooftops about just how great our region is.

So at the end of July when you watch Boris emerge from that famous black door on Downing Street, do not fear because he could be just what the doctor ordered.