Northern Research Group of Tory MPs call on Boris Johnson to 'show the North some love' and help create a 'science and engineering corridor'

A group of northern Tory MPs have urged Boris Johnson's Government to help create a 'science and engineering corridor' to bring higher-paying jobs to the region.

The Northern Research Group included the measure in its ten-point action plan it hopes Ministers will implement to further the 'levelling up' agenda as it calls on the PM to "show the North the love this summer".

Former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, who chairs the NRG says the imminent end of coronavirus restrictions means "it’s time to start delivering an ambitious programme at pace".

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Boris Johnson pictured in West Yorkshire last month. Pic by PA

And the group says the recovery from the pandemic "is the opportune time to seize on the expertise the North, from Anglo American in Scarborough to Boeing in South Yorkshire".

It says: "The Government as part of its drive for jobs should invest in initiatives that would create a ‘green engineering and manufacturing corridor’, close the research and development gap in the North, and expand the use of deep digital tech that would drive productivity and wage growth".

It comes ahead of a speech on Thursday by Mr Johnson, who made a pledge to level up the country and tackle regional inequalities a cornerstone of his 2019 General Election campaign.

The Government says the PM will "set out the steps the government will take to deliver on the central purpose of his premiership - to level up and unite the United Kingdom".

Other proposals from the NRG focus on a transport revolution, lower taxes and initiatives to attract businesses to the North.

They include the most deprived areas outside of London being automatically given a special grant as part of the Government's Towns Fund to ensure that levelling up is an equal process across the UK.

This should, they say, be combined with an expectation that local authorities will use their powers to use financial incentives, such as lower business rates, to attract businesses to the town.

Another idea is a Northern Growth Board, an independent and private sector-led advisory board, in collaboration with the public sector, which would be given a mandate to put forward ideas, policies, and initiatives to deliver growth across the North.

Jake Berry, the Chairman of the group, said: “We have been in lockdown longer than any other area of the country. It’s time for the Government to show the North some love with a summer of levelling up for the North.

“People in the North want their children to be able to get world-class education and then good, well-paying jobs locally rather than being forced to migrate southwards.

“This is an opportunity for the Government to reaffirm its commitment to the North, on which the Prime Minster now relies for his majority in Parliament, by encouraging investment and getting jobs and industry back in the North.

“Since December 2019 we have heard a lot about plans to level up the North, now is the time to show how we can deliver. Our 10-point plan cuts through the red tape that Whitehall departments try to tie this whole agenda down with.

“No one in the North cares about internal governmental turf wars. They want real jobs, real change, and real opportunities. It’s time to start delivering an ambitious programme at pace if we are going to see real progress this summer.”