The response to the coronavirus crisis could deepen Britain’s North-South divide, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned.
After Labour was soundly beaten in its traditional heartlands by the Conservatives at last year’s general election, Sir Keir pointed to the inconsistences on the issue from the Tories.
In an article for the Yorkshire Post, Sir Keir wrote: ‘The Conservative Party talk a good game on this issue but their record after a decade in power is one of consistent failure to properly invest in our regions.’
But he warned: ‘The North-South divide is continuing to grow. That gulf is even starker in coalfield communities like Doncaster.
‘Without government action, there is a real risk the coronavirus deepens the existing injustices and inequalities.’
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Sir Keir says his party has ‘a mountain to climb’ to regain public trust in the north of England.
He went on a virtual visit to speak with Doncaster residents, and he found a pressing concern is to repay the service of key workers, which he said Labour would deliver with action.
He wrote: ‘I am under no illusion that Labour has a mountain to climb to win the next election but I am determined to restore people’s faith and trust in our party and in politics.
‘That means supporting the country through the coronavirus pandemic. It also means offering people hope for a better society after this crisis is over.
‘The past few months have shown us so clearly who the key workers really are.
‘Our NHS staff, care workers, ambulance drivers, porters, shopkeepers, police and emergency services. It is because of their dedication and sense of public service that Yorkshire has kept moving. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
‘It is not enough for us to clap them on a Thursday night and then return to business as usual when this crisis ends. It is our duty – Labour’s duty and my duty – to offer that vision for a better, fairer, more equal society.’