Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that government ministers, as well as whole departments, will be relocated to the North as part of his government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. The PM has reaffirmed his commitment to ‘unleash the talent and potential’ outside of London and the South of England.
This announcement came against the backdrop of criticism for the Prime Minister that he has been fuelling the North/ South divide during the coronavirus crisis. During his press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Johnson denied that he is at ‘at war’ with the North after his row with the Mayor of Manchester this week.
Johnson romped to election victory less than twelve months ago by seizing a swathe of ‘Red Wall’ seats from Labour. As a result of restrictions that are being reimposed in the North of England, Tory MP’s are becoming increasingly anxious at the speed with which political capital is being burned up.
Yesterday, speaking by video link to the Great Northern Conference yesterday, Johnson said: ‘Even now, as we are still up to our thighs in the mud of the trenches, grappling with this virus, my message to you is that it cannot be enough simply to get through the crisis, we must build back better, build back stronger, build back faster. That means our work to level up and unleash the talent and potential of the North – by investing in education, skills and infrastructure – is now more urgent than ever. We will move departments of state, ministers, private offices and all, to great northern cities and regions that represent the future of this country’.
UNN’s Oliver Down will be monitoring this developing story.