Northern Powerhouse is now “a fantastic brand” – Rishi Sunak

RISHI Sunak says the Government’s next priority is to “put flesh on the bones” of the Northern Powerhouse strategy.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a constitutency visit to Northallerton. Photo: James Hardisty.

He fully stands by his backbench Commons speech in November 2017 when he said: “The Northern Powerhouse is a wonderful phrase, but the people of northern England deserve more than a slogan; they need action.”

The Chancellor told The Yorkshire Post: “I think it is moving from being a fantastic brand actually, and credit to my predecessor George Osborne for creating the notion of it, and giving it national prominence which is what it needed. Now we need to put flesh on the bones and that’s what we are doing.”

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Mr Sunak said he wanted the Leeds to Manchester link of the Northern Powerhouse Rail project to be advanced as quickly as possible to boost jobs, investment, opportunities, connectivity and productivity.

Rishi Sunak talks to shoppers in Northallerton. Photo: James Hardisty.

“We’re trying to push on with that. It is going to be vital,” said the Chancellor.

He also wants the building of such schemes to be speeded up. “I’m working hard to try and figure how to deliver them faster,” he said.

Mr Sunak did confirm that the status of HS2, backed by the Cabinet at a cost of £100bn-plus, remains unchanged following Covid-19,

But he did stress that smaller projects had a key role to play when it comes to meeting the Northern Powerhouse’s global ambitions.

Rishi Sunak talks to Guy Baker in Barkers department store in Northallerton. Photo: James Hardisty.

He cited improvements to local stations, the A66 upgrade, the West Yorkshire devolution deal, part of his March Budget, and Freeport plan for the Tees as part of the post-Brexit settlement.

He is also committed to boosting “freight” and maximising opportunities if a rail spur is built off the East Coast Main Line to serve Doncaster Sheffield Airport. “It’s these incremental improvements in your local area that make a tangible difference to day to day lives,” added Mr Sunak.

See The Yorkshire Post on Monday for the Chancellor’s must read views on education – and full interview on being thrust into the national limelight.

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