Boris Johnson admits Tories 'failed' northern towns as he launches £3.6bn fund


Boris Johnson has said politicians have ‘failed’ the north in a speech just days after becoming Prime Minister.

An audience of around 100 people gathered at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester to listen to Mr Johnson’s speech.

He promised a “£3.6 billion Town’s Fund supporting an initial 100 towns, so that they will get the improved transport and the improved broadband connectivity that they need.”

Mr Johnson said: “The centre of Manchester, like the centre of London, is a wonder of the world.

“A few miles away from here the story is very different.

“The story has been for young people growing up there of hopelessness, or the hope that one day they will get out and never come back.

“The crucial point is it certainly isn’t really the fault of the places, and certainly isn’t the fault of the people growing up there.

“They haven’t failed. It’s we, us, the politicians, our politics has failed them.”

The PM also spoke on the risk of a no deal Brexit and said although we have to get ready for it he doesn’t think that’s where we’ll end up.

Boris Johnson says politicians have ‘failed’ northern towns

  

The Prime Minister received a round of applause as he entered the room and took to the stage shortly after 11am.

He drew laughs from the crowd when he claimed that London and Manchester have “boomed” due to having mayors and added: “Some better than others.”

The PM pledged: “And we are going now to have a £3.6 billion Town’s Fund supporting an initial 100 towns, so that they will get the improved transport and the improved broadband connectivity that they need.”

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Boris Johnson meets engineering graduates on the site of an under-construction tramline in Stretford, near Manchester, today

 

Mr Johnson set out the four “ingredients” for the success of the UK as livability, connectivity, culture, and power and responsibility.

He said this means areas having great public services, enough affordable homes, safe streets, fast broadband, and more responsibility and accountability for local areas.

The PM added: “I want to set out what I think are the ingredients for the success of the UK, the places we call home whether it’s our cities or our towns, our coastal communities or rural areas.

“We are going to give greater powers to council leaders and communities.”

“We are going to level up the powers offered to mayors so more people can benefit from the kind of local structures seen in London and here in Manchester.”

Boris Johnson walks with CEO of Transport for the North Barry White (left) and Britain’s Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry (centre)

Boris Johnson has today visited the site of a new tram line in Manchester and spoken to construction workers.

The Prime Minister donned a hard hat, hi-vis jacket and safety boots for the visit to the new Trafford Park Line.

During the 10-minute visit, Mr Johnson spoke to Alex Cropper, head of operations for Transport for Greater Manchester, Barry White, chief executive for Transport for the North, and Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister.

The new 5.5km line will extend the current Eccles tram line to the Trafford Centre and include six new stops.

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The £350 million line has been paid for with funding from the Government as part of Manchester’s devolution deal.

The PM donned a hard hat, hi-vis jacket and safety boots for the visit to the new Trafford Park Line

Mr Johnson wore a badge bearing the phrase “Northern Powerhouse” during the speech.

He pledged to go ahead with the Northern Powerhouse rail because the return on investment for the country would be “colossal”.

He added: “Yes, we want to go ahead with the Northern Powerhouse rail.

“I think the return on investment for this country would be colossal and if you want to drive the economy and if you want to create for business the platform that gives them the certainty to invest then you need fantastic public infrastructure.

“That is the way to do it.”

Mr Johnson also touched on Brexit

Mr Johnson also addressed the prospect of a no deal Brexit.

The PM said: “On the…risk of a no deal Brexit, or the prospect of a no deal Brexit, well, we have just got to get ready for it.

“I don’t think that’s where we will end up.

“But as I have told our European friends, we are going to prepare very actively for that eventuality in high confidence that this is an amazing country and we will get through it if we need to.”

The Prime Minister said his Government will work with the EU in the “spirit of friendship and co-operation” and not be “disengaged or aloof”.

But Mr Johnson said progress could only be made once the “antidemocratic” backstop was removed.

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The PM on the site of an under-construction tramline in Stretford

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He added: “I want to stress to everybody that the approach of the UK Government is not going to be disengaged or aloof or waiting for them to come to us, we are going to try to solve these problems and we are going to do it in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.

“We can’t do it as long as that antidemocratic backstop, that backstop that seeks to divide our country, divide the UK, remains in place.

“We need to get it out and then we can make progress.”

During a question and answer session, audience members could be heard saying “hear, hear” as Mr Johnson repeated his determination to deliver Brexit by October 31.

He received a standing ovation from the audience as he left the room.

After his speech, members of the public waited behind barriers outside the museum to catch a glimpse of the new Prime Minister as he left.





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