Red Wall Tories want Boris Johnson to deliver a 'Northern Big Bang'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses his supporters

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses his supporters prior to boarding his general election campaign bus in Manchester - Credit: Getty Images

Boris Johnson is facing calls from northern Tories to make good his promises at the general election.

The Northern Research Group (NRG) of MPs want to see the region benefit from the prime minister's commitment to  “level up” by unleashing a new investment boom.

They say that the region needs its own “Big Bang” comparable to the deregulation of the City of London in the 1980s to deliver opportunity and prosperity.

The group includes many of the so-called “red wall” Tories who took traditional Labour strongholds in the party’s 2019 general election victory.

In a report written with the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, the NRG said the government now needed to match the “radicalism” of voters who backed the Conservatives for the first time with a radical agenda of its own.

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“The aim of a Northern Big Bang should be to unleash a torrent of investment into the Northern economy, to deliver the productivity gains, economic growth and higher wages that are so desperately needed,” it said.

“These proposals, and that investment, can help create a Northern Big Bang, comparable to the 1980s Big Bang in the City of London, which did so much to bring new opportunities and economic growth in London and the South East.”

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The report’s recommendations include cash incentives for investors to spur a “green industrial revolution”, fast-tracking major planning applications with decisions in “weeks not years” and updating pension scheme rules to encourage more investment in northern infrastructure.

It called also for the creations of a new northern infrastructure bond aimed at global investors with a northern recovery bond to allow local investors to support growth and a new growth board for the North to help steer investment.

The report said the various proposals put together had the potential to unlock billions of pounds of private sector investment in the region.

“There is a particular opportunity to make the North the home of the green industrial revolution which the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has called for,” it said.

“The innovation and technology which will allow us to achieve our net-zero ambitions need to be inculcated somewhere, and the North of England is the most obvious place, given its manufacturing strengths and industrial pedigree.”

NRG chairman Jake Berry said: “At the last election millions of northern voters broke with tradition by voting for the Conservative Party, in many cases for the first time.

“The prime minister needs to recognise that they did so not only to deliver Brexit, but to voice the systemic disadvantages felt in many communities that were tired of being neglected in favour of London and the South East.

“The measures we have put forward will help the prime minister and this government to ‘level up’ the economy and help make the North build back better as one of the most investable places in modern times.”

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