Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected earlier this month, says London will be “an ally rather than an adversary” ahead of a high-profile visit to the region today
“The suggestion that we are competitors, rather than partners, is in no-one’s interests,” he writes in an exclusive column for The Yorkshire Post.
“This may be politically convenient for some in the short-term, but it’s disingenuous and damaging to our sense of national unity and pride.”
Mr Khan is joining forces with Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire’s new mayor, to visit Sherburn-in-Elmet manufacturer Switch Mobility which is building a new fleet of electric buses for the capital.
He cites this deal as an example of how London and regions like Yorkshire can work collaboratively on economic growth for Britain’s greater good as he vows to support metro mayors across the country.
“I think it’s important to highlight these kinds of links because it helps to challenge the view that the best way to level up the country is to level down London,” writes Mr Khan.
“Levelling up our towns and cities should not be seen as a zero-sum game. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing that there’s a simple choice between investing in London or the rest of the UK.
“This notion that’s being pushed is simply another form of divisive politics that will fail to deliver the jobs, growth and prosperity we need across the UK.”
He adds: “The truth is London succeeds when the rest of the UK succeeds – and vice-versa. That’s why we should always strive to lift each other up.”
The mayor’s visit was welcomed by Switch Mobility’s vice chairman Andy Palmer who said: “It is important that as the UK emerges from the pandemic that the country makes investments in the “green” economy. We look forward to strong future collaboration with TfL and West Yorkshire.”
Meanwhile Mr Khan’s intervention comes after Parliament’s Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy Committee criticised two key Ministers for offering insufficient detail over the Government’s levelling up agenda.
Both Paul Scully, the Small Business Minister, and Luke Hall, the Local Government Minister, said details would not be provided until a White Paper is published later this year.
They also suggested that the policy will be controlled by a dedicated new Downing Street policy unit which is to be be headed by Huddersfield-born Neil O’Brien who is now a Tory MP in Leicestershire.
But Sheffield MP Clive Betts, the chair of Parliament’s Communities Committee, accused Mr Hall of speaking in “generalities” when he was asked to set out how the Government intends “to measure the success of levelling up”.
And Paul Howell, the new Tory MP for the ‘red wall’ seat of Sedgefield, warned that the absence of any clarity risked undermining public confidence as he asked if there should be a Levelling Up Minister in the Cabinet.
“It’s not for me to say,” replied Mr Scully. “I have confidence the Prime Minister has assembled the right group to complete the task.”
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