Tory contenders and the North’s future as ex-Minister speaks out – The Yorkshire Post says

EVEN though Sam Gyimah is one of the few Tory MPs sitting out the race to succeed Theresa May, it should not diminish the significance of his intervention in The Yorkshire Post on the North’s future economic prospects.

Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has been lauded by Sam Gyimah, the former Universities Minister.

Quite the opposite. The contribution by the former Universities Minister is required reading by every candidate because Mr Gyimah appears to be one of the few senior Conservatives who recognises the North’s political, economic and electoral significance.

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He does not hold back in his critique which coincides with his visit today to Sheffield’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in conjunction with the Northern Powerhouse Partnership – the brainchild of George Osborne, the ex-Chancellor.

Former Chancellor George Osborne was the architect of the Northern Powerhouse.

He regrets “historic under-investment” in the North’s universities. He admits that policy progress on the Northern Powerhouse agenda stalled when Mrs May came to office and he recognises that transport investment, like a light rail scheme in Leeds, is fundamental to growth.

Though these conclusions are not new, they are significant because Mr Gyimah – who resigned last November in order to campaign for a second referendum on Brexit – is not a Northern politician.

Born in Beaconsfield, he represents East Surrey. If he can see these failures, why can’t others in his party? And while the pioneering work being undertaken by the University of Sheffield, in conjunction with the AMRC, clearly made a lasting impression when he held office, Mr Gyimah – like us – is clearly worried that the Tory party is turning inwards when it needs to be reaching out to all parts of the country in order to ensure its survival.

Thus far, none of the frontrunners have made telling interventions 
on how they would rebalance the economy because they are so fixated by Brexit that they think the North is, in fact, the Northern Line’s last stop on the London Underground. Such naivety does not bode well.

As Mr Gyimah concludes, a progressive party should, in his words, have “no no-go areas” – the Tories once had five MPs in South Yorkshire – and he should be commended for trying to change the terms of the debate.

In return, this newspaper looks forward to the Tory party’s main contenders setting out specific policies for Yorkshire and the rest of the North that their respective candidacies can be judged against – it is a key test that is in the national interest and which they cannot afford to fail.