Osborne proposes a ‘Boris for Leeds’

GEORGE Osborne moved to seize the agenda on devolving power to the regions today as he promised “serious” money to cities which choose to have a London-style elected mayor.

George Osborne

The Chancellor said there was a “strong case” for more elected mayors who could drive growth and development in northern cities.

In a speech in Manchester this morning, he set out the Coalition’s vision for bringing the North’s cities together to create a “powerhouse” that could help reduce rebalance the UK economy away from the overheated South East.

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He suggested the next high speed rail link could connect Leeds and Manchester and said the North was a hive of scientific and cultural activity.

But he went further and, in an echo of the argument made by campaigners for regional devolution, argued that the North needed real “power” if it is to undergo an economic transformation.

He said: “A true powerhouse requires true power.

“So today I am putting on the table and starting the conversation about serious devolution of powers and budgets for any city that wants to move to a new model of city government - and have an elected Mayor.

“A Mayor for Greater Manchester. A Mayor for Leeds. With powers similar to the Mayor of London.”