Days into his renewed tenure as Prime Minister, it appears that Boris Johnson has begun trying to make good on the promises he made to the North that undoubtedly helped him to secure victory in last week’s General Election.
He is expected to pour cash into the region to try to keep hold of his new Northern electorate, many of whom were found in traditionally Labour strongholds.
Already mooted is up to £80bn of infrastructure funding in the North, as well as an idea to hold Cabinet meetings in a northern town or city every other week.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry has claimed this is a “once in a generation opportunity to power up the North” – in a clear reference to the name of the campaign launched by this newspaper and others this summer pleading for fairer representation of the region. He is right – and expectations are high.
Mr Johnson set out his vision for Yorkshire should he return as Prime Minister in this newspaper two weeks ago. It was a plan that included increased funding for bus and rail services, devolved decision-making powers for Yorkshire leaders and a programme of investment across 16 towns.
Yorkshire voters deserve no less. If, as Mr Berry claims, the balance of power has truly shifted north, Mr Johnson’s premiership must be about far more than “getting Brexit done”.
It will also be judged on tangible, positive change in towns, cities and rural communities in Yorkshire and the North that for too long have been neglected. The expectation that the Government plans to send billions of pounds of extra investment this way is a welcome first step. But Mr Johnson and his ministers must also deliver on Northern Powerhouse Rail and a high-growth, high-wage economy for this region. He must now be a man of his word or he could soon find his support here – blue collar, business or otherwise – starting to fade away.