The reason is this. There is no plan after the Prime Minister’s original overtures towards the Northern Powerhouse when running for the Tory leadership two years ago morphed into an even more opaque phrase.
Now ‘levelling up’ risks becoming a ruse to mask political and policy inaction – with the indecision leading to the type of vacuums which played a part in the Tory’s defeat in Chesham and Amersham.
It is why leaders across the region, led by Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis, are again pressing for a ‘New Deal for the North’ by launching a new policy prospectus intended to spread opportunity and help those areas that were already at a disadvantage before Covid struck.
This is a substantive piece of work that builds on many of the themes of the Power Up The North campaign that The Yorkshire Post spearheaded in 2019. But, with the very best will in the world, it, too, will wither until the London Government creates a dedicated Ministry for the North here, staffed by Ministers and civil servants steeped in the region, and gives it the necessary powers and resources required to develop and guide future policy.
Backed up by dedicated questions in Parliament, and a select committee overseeing its remit, this is the only way to bring about the level of co-ordination that saw Mr Johnson name Jake Berry as Northern Powerhouse Minister, and promote him to the Cabinet, before sidelining the role and remit in February 2020.
And unless Mr Johnson stops the sloganising, and actually shifts the centre of power for devolution and the regions to the North, then ‘levelling up’ risks same fate as the ‘big society’’ ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and every other fatuous phrase of recent times.
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