Labour’s northern leaders demand £70bn post-Brexit investment plan for region

Labour’s leaders in the north of England are demanding the parties at Westminster agree to a £70 billion post-Brexit investment plan for the region.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, the mayors of Manchester and Liverpool, along with Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, are coming together to make sure their areas are not forgotten in the row over exiting the EU.

The trio, who together represent major communities that make up 15 million people, are meeting today in Sheffield for the Transport for the North (TfN) inaugural conference.

There they will launch the Strategic Transport Plan (STP) that was agreed last week, which sets out a £70 billion investment programme over the next 30 years which is claimed “could unlock £100 billion in economic growth and create one million jobs”.

It makes the case to increase spending on strategic transport by around £50 per person in the north each year to 2050.

Other plans include upgraded and new major roads, enhancements to the existing rail network, and the continued roll-out of smart ticketing.

Mr Rotheram said: “For too long power and opportunity have been concentrated in the south at the expense of the north and there is a real danger that this is further enhanced by Brexit.

“Westminster elites and Whitehall mandarins need to stop looking at Brexit from a London-centric standpoint. Otherwise they will further splinter our country.

“Adopting these investment proposals in full would be a good first step, but they should be just the start of a wider offer that also involves further devolution of real power for our communities across the north ensuring no one feels they have been ignored or held back.”

Judith Blake
Judith Blake

Ms Blake said the north has been shut out of the major Brexit decisions, adding: “It simply cannot be allowed to go on any longer.

“One small way for politicians at Westminster to show that it won’t be business as usual, would be for them to take these plans forward in full.”

And Mr Burnham said: “The first step should be to adopt these modest proposals as a show of goodwill by Westminster leaders that northern communities will not continue to be overlooked during the Brexit process, as has sadly been the case so far.”