Boris Johnson insists his ‘levelling up’ agenda will not leave southern voters out in the cold
Boris Johnson will today try to reassure southern voters that his ‘levelling up’ agenda will not leave them out in the cold.
The Prime Minister will insist that prosperous areas in the South East will benefit from spreading economic growth more widely.
His speech – designed to put flesh on the bones of his election-winning slogan – comes amid Tory jitters over last month’s Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat to the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Johnson will say that the Government’s success will hinge on whether it can ‘raise living standards, spread opportunity, improve our public services and restore people’s sense of pride in their community’, particularly in areas that had been left behind.
The Prime Minister will insist that prosperous areas in the South East will benefit from spreading economic growth more widely
He will warn that previous governments invested too much in ‘areas where house prices are already sky high and transport is already congested’.
He will add: ‘By turbo-charging those areas, especially in London and the South East, you drive prices even higher and you force more and more people to move to the same expensive areas. And the result is that their commutes are longer, their trains are more crowded, they have less time with their kids.
‘They worry at the same time that the younger generation won’t be able to get a home and that their leafy suburb or village will be engulfed by new housing development but without the infrastructure to go with it.’
The ‘level up’ pledge was seen as central to smashing Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ seats in the Midlands and the North. Former No 10 adviser turned Tory MP Neil O’Brien has been recruited to work out policy details. The agenda will include a focus on local infrastructure projects and the regeneration of high streets.
His speech – designed to put flesh on the bones of his election-winning slogan – comes amid Tory jitters over last month’s Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat to the Liberal Democrats. Pictured: Chesham and Amersham Lib Dem MP Sarah Green
The Chesham by-election’s 25 per cent swing to the Lib Dems came as a shock to southern Tories.
One MP said: ‘You can’t bang on about levelling up the North without voters in the South starting to wonder what’s in it for them.’ Speaking in the West Midlands, the PM will insist: ‘We don’t want to decapitate the tall poppies. We don’t think you can make the poor parts of the country richer by making the rich parts poorer.’
Meanwhile, the Government will today confirm plans for eight new hospitals – the first batch of a promised 40 by 2030. Four will be in the West Midlands, Cumbria, Liverpool and Brighton, with four more expected in London, Manchester, Nottingham and Northumberland.