“I want to be the Prime Minister who does Northern Powerhouse Rail,” the former Mayor of London told party activists in Exeter before explaining how improved transport connectivity was critical to increasing economic productivity.
And even Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss – in the running to become the next Chancellor if Mr Johnson succeeds Theresa May – recognises that the North has received an unfair deal for too long.
“You’ve not had the investment you deserve in this area for generations. Boris wants to fix that. We want to make sure that more of the money we’re spending is in the north of England; sorting out the train services, sorting out the fibre internet,” she told the BBC’s Question Time.
However there is a caveat. In a leadership contest, words can be cheap and regular readers will remember that Ms Truss was Environment Secretary at the time of December 2015 floods here when her negligible response – Leeds is still fighting for funds for enhanced flood defences – epitomised the Government’s complete disregard for the North.
People do have long memories here as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling quickly discovered when he backtracked on his promise to electrify Yorkshire’s main railways.
And, as such, Mr Johnson’s promise should be treated with caution until the Northern Powerhouse agenda receives definitive support from the next PM. That’s the test.