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Northern Tory MPs worried over levelling up under Truss

Tory MPs in the North of England are worried about the future of the levelling-up agenda under the Truss government. And they are right, if a leading Conservative commentator is correct that the Prime Minister cannot even bring herself to say the words ‘levelling up.’

According to the Northern Echo today the Northern Research Group (NRG) of Conservative MPs, which campaigns on behalf of the wider region, has warned the government not to abandon levelling up.

Ahead of the Conservative Party conference opening on Sunday, they say she should double down on levelling up and not forget the promises the party made to voters in the 2019 general election.

John Stevenson, NRG chair and MP for Carlisle, said: ‘That requires both short-term action in the form of tax cuts and investment in public services and in the long-term finding ways to boost the productivity of towns and cities that have struggled for decades to retain talent and attract private investment.’

He told Northern Agenda that he hopes the levelling up agenda can be reconciled with Liz Truss’s enthusiasm for tax cuts and what he needs to hear if his fellow ‘red wall’ Conservatives have any chance of getting re-elected in the next election.

Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, told the Echo: ‘”People of Darlington can rest assured I will continue to press the government to double down on its promises to level up here which has brought 1,700 civil service job opportunities, improvements to our town centre, our learning offering, our transport infrastructure. But we do need to do more to reverse the years where our region was ignored by parties of all colours.’

But Henry Hill, deputy editor of ConservativeHome, writing in the online magazine CapX, said: ‘[W}hilst there have been a few welcome commitments, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, one doesn’t get the impression ministers are about to unveil a concerted spending programme – not least because the Chancellor is widely expected to deliver public spending cuts soon. And…when the Prime Minister seems either unwilling or unable to even say the words ‘levelling up’ it will be hard to persuade voters she cares much for it.’