The actor Bill Murray seems to have a knack of appearing in films with titles that usefully apply to real life. It was the film Groundhog Day that came to mind this weekend when, just like Theresa May before him, Boris Johnson showed up with another stack of rehashed promises for the north.
Boris Johnson will face brutal backlash if he backpedals on promises to the NorthThis attempt at re-branding won’t fool the people of the north or reverse the effects of austerity and the impacts of any Brexit, or make up for the lost EU future funding opportunities if we leave.
With typical bluster and spin, Johnson said he would ‘turbo-charge’ regional growth.
Why Boris Johnson is the right PM for these timesBut as Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester pointed out, the promises on things like rail were just a rehash of former Chancellor George Osborne’s five-year-old pledges of substantial investment in east-west links.
Then there was a new figure plucked from the air to support northern areas but this is way less than our areas could receive from the EU if we stayed in – €13bn of regional development funding between 2021 and 2027!
The government’s own studies show that a no-deal exit from the EU would be the most economically damaging outcome for the UK, with the effect most pronounced in the North East and the West Midlands.
Other studies also show that it is the Midlands and the North of England which are by far the most vulnerable’and that they are more exposed to Brexit than any other region in Europe.
So it is not the first time that the north has heard promises such as those made this weekend. But if “Mr No Deal” Johnson really wants to help the North, the best thing he can do is give the people a chance to vote on abandoning the whole crazy Groundhog Day idea of Brexit.