Boris Johnson: Why Yorkshire voters can trust me to deliver for the region...and Brexit

Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.

Next Thursday, Yorkshire will go to the polls with the nation at a crossroads.

After three and a half years of parliamentary gridlock, we have an opportunity to finally get Brexit done and focus on other key issues like investing in our hospitals and improving our schools.

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For the Conservative Party, that means persuading voters to put their faith in us in nine more seats to give us a majority – places like Dewsbury, Keighley, Wakefield and Leeds North West.

Boris Johnson delivers a speech at the launch of his party's manifesto. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

But while we can get Brexit done, it isn’t certain we will. There is a very real prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn minority government, propped up by the Scottish Nationalists, subjecting the country to two referendums next year.

Cast your mind back just five weeks to shouting and screaming in parliament, day after day, night after night. And then imagine five more years of it.

Nowhere is that choice starker than Yorkshire. The floods last month reminded us that a Government must retain a laser focus on its responsibilities.

When I visited Matlock in Derbyshire the day after they first hit and then returned to Stainforth, five days later, the scale and importance of the challenge was abundantly clear to me.

I’ve ensured everything possible has been done to tackle the flooding – emergency government funding for local councils, recovery grants for households and businesses.

But good government should do more than just manage events. It should unleash opportunities. And with Brexit unresolved and politicians devoting all of their energy to squabbling about it, that simply won’t happen.

Yorkshire has huge potential for growth and I have a plan influenced by this paper’s fantastic Power up the North campaign.

Firstly, I want better transport links. We understand the best decisions for local people are taken locally, so we’ve established Transport for the North - the first statutory sub-regional transport body in England.

We are investing in Northern Powerhouse Rail to link Leeds to Manchester and then to Sheffield, and increasing funding to improve bus and train services in places like Bradford, Calderdale and Wetherby.

Secondly I want to boost businesses by cutting business rates and investing up to £25m each in 16 towns across the region such as Brighouse, Dewsbury and Doncaster.

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.

Thirdly, there will be more money for every pupil in Yorkshire as part of a nationwide £14bn investment in our schools. That will help every school strive for the fantastic performance of Fulford School in York, which, as this paper reported last month, has won back to back awards for excellence.

Fourthly, I want to make sure the NHS has the funding it needs for the incredible work it does. That’s why Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust was one of six to receive a share of £2.7bn funding I announced this autumn.

That will mean a new hospital on the Leeds General Infirmary site and upgraded cancer diagnostic machines in nine hospitals in Yorkshire, including Hull, Barnsley and Sheffield.

Fifthly, we will finally tackle the challenge of delivering a social care system that guarantees that no one needs to sell their home to pay for care – stabilising the system with £5bninvestment and then seeking immediate cross-party consensus for a long-term solution.

Sixthly, we are recruiting more than 500 new police officers across this region next year, with more coming as part of our plans to put 20,000 more officers on our streets.

Seventhly, we will increase the amount you need to earn before you pay any National Insurance and freeze income tax, VAT and National Insurance for the next five years. We already increased the National Living Wage, giving 193,000 people in the region a pay rise – and we will take it up to £10.50 by 2024.

Finally, I want to see more decisions for Yorkshire taken in Yorkshire. As a former mayor, I am a strong believer in giving local people more power over their future. So we will complete the Sheffield City Region deal, unlocking £900m of investment, and we’re negotiating with leaders in West Yorkshire to secure a deal there too.

That’s my plan for Yorkshire – but to do all these things, we first need to get Brexit done. 57 per cent of people in the region voted for it. Yet it still hasn’t happened. And until it does, very little else will either. That is why we’re having this election.

And that’s what is at stake this Thursday. It’s your vote and it’s your choice.

But be in no doubt: if you want to get Brexit done so we can focus on our NHS, our schools and tackling crime, the only way to get that is with a Conservative majority government.

A vote for any other party and the New Year will be the same as the old one – more Brexit delay and more parliamentary deadlock.

Only this time, with two more referendums to boot.