Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson today set out their respective visions for Yorkshire – and the Northern Powerhouse – as the final week of general election campaigning intensifies.
Their exclusive articles come after The Yorkshire Post asked the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem leaders to respond to the Manifesto for the North published by newspapers and business leaders at the campaign’s outset. They were also asked to address social care.
All three main parties are stepping up their attempts to win over undecided voters in the key Yorkshire battleground seats which will help decide whether Mr Johnson retains the keys to 10 Downing Street next Thursday after a campaign dominated by Brexit, austerity and trust.
Tories – criticised at the start of the campaign for a slow response to the South Yorkshire floods – say they intend to blitz Brexit-backing Labour voters in nine seats in the county. The outcome in these areas is said to be critical if Mr Johnson is to win an overall Commons majority.
And the three personal columns precede the publication of a major new survey on Monday which is expected to show widespread public support for many of the key demands of the agenda-setting Power Up The North campaign when nearly 40 newspapers, including The Yorkshire Post, joined forces to challenge all Westminster leaders to accelerate plans to narrow the North-South economic divide and tackle social inequality in the regions.
Today Mr Johnson confirms that his policies have been influenced by the “fantastic” campaign. Defending his response to the recent months, he concedes that he will struggle to advance his ambitious plans for Yorkshire until Brexit is implemented.
“I also want to help the region sell to the world, so we are driving foreign investment through bodies like the Northern Powerhouse and creating Freeports to establish innovative global trade hubs,” he adds.
Meanwhile Mr Corbyn – who clashed with the Tory leader in last night’s final TV debate between the two leaders before polling day – reiterates his backing for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. “Without affordable, reliable transport, business and opportunities suffer,” he writes. The Opposition leader also stresses his party’s commitment to full countywide devolution.
And Ms Swinson, in her campaign column, commits her party to a “devolution revolution” to empower local communities.
“That is why the Liberal Democrats support the creation of a new democratic body with real power and meaningful financial muscle: a Yorkshire Parliament, directly elected by Yorkshire people, replacing the separate combined authorities and police commissioners,” she writes.