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George Osborne launches thinktank to support Northern Powerhouse

George Osborne launches thinktank to support Northern Powerhouse

Former chancellor George Osborne has pledged to "fight" for the Northern Powerhouse project through a new thinktank he has set up with business and cross-party support.

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership will aim to ensure the government maintains its commitment to the project, including a range of major construction schemes that Mr Osborne believes are essential if the idea is to come to fruition. These include new road and rail developments like the HS3 high-speed rail line from Liverpool to Hull via Manchester and Leeds.

Mr Osborne is being joined by the leaders of Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield councils, as well as business leaders from the region, with the body also calling for more decision-making and spending powers to be devolved to the north.

The former chancellor has returned to the backbenches after being sacked by new prime minister Theresa May and has said he wants to stay around and campaign for causes such as the Northern Powerhouse, instead of following David Cameron out of the Commons.

He said one key reason for stepping up the campaign was the "wobble" the new administration appeared to have over the Northern Powerhouse when Mrs May talked about having a new industrial strategy for the whole country, not just the north.

Mr Osborne was not alone in being concerned by this, with Labour's candidate to be mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham urging Mrs May to "put her money where her mouth is" and persist with the plan.

The concept of a regional economic powerhouse based around linking the cities of the north more closely in terms of political power and transport has been championed by Mr Osborne since his initial speech on the subject in Manchester two years ago, when he also first mooted the HS3 idea.

Looking back at the progress made so far, he said: "When I launched the idea of Northern Powerhouse I said I would work tirelessly with anyone and everyone to make it a reality. But even I have been taken aback by the huge support it’s attracted, across political parties, businesses and communities.

"In the space of just two years, we’ve created powerful new mayors, committed to huge new transport and science projects, and attracted investment from around the world."

Image: DfT

 

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