THE campaigning newspapers of the North made one combined call to a Westminster that can seem out of touch and remote: To Power Up The North. I hear you. And if I’m Prime Minister, I will.
Last week, I took the train between Manchester and Leeds after meeting Transport for the North. It was a productive journey. I spoke to a journalist about my plans for the Northern Powerhouse, had a long chat with the guard about Pacer trains, and took a couple of calls.
But it was so productive because it took so long. And that’s nothing compared to some of the infrastructure around the rest of the North, which has held back an economy that is packed full of bright, resourceful people.
I was in Government when George Osborne first uttered the words ‘Northern Powerhouse’. As somebody born in Rochdale, my ears pricked up. I loved it. A real commitment from the Conservative Party to deliver, to really deliver, for the North.
We lost focus on that mission. We got stuck in the morass of Brexit. Rather than focusing on the whole country, we closed shop in the Westminster bubble.
I want to promise you that as Prime Minister I’ll reinvigorate the Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine and supercharge growth outside of the capital.
I’ll never be ashamed of London’s success but as somebody born in the North, an MP for a Midlands seat and who grew up in the South West, I get it.
I’ve already announced a £100bn National Infrastructure Fund, an expert group based outside of London. One of that group’s first two tasks, alongside a national fibre optic network, will be to work with local authorities, mayors and others across the north to massively improve east-west connections. With record low Government interest rates, it’s madness that we haven’t done more to take advantage and rebalance our economy.
That’ll be tied to HS2, which I am 100 per cent committed to delivering. I would also back another HS3 route linking our great cities of the North, from Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds to Newcastle.
And any more ideas that come from across the North will be given their fair hearing, by Government as well as by the arms-length Fund.
I want to bring energy and drive to Government – and I want it to be felt across the country.
Sajid Javid is the Home Secretary and a Tory leadership contender.