Northern MPs to 'hunt like a pack' to ensure voters have a reason to back the Tories again in five years

Northern MPs are going to “hunt like a pack” in the new Parliament which is being billed as a once in a generation opportunity to power up the North.

By Geraldine Scott
Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:45 am

Conservative MPs scored a landslide victory in the North last week, taking nine seats off Labour in Yorkshire alone.

And now, as they head to the House of Commons to begin their work, focus has been shifted to how the Government can hold on to voters who may have just lent their support to the Tories this time around.

Already mooted is up to £80bn of infrastructure funding in the North, and the idea of holding Cabinet meetings in a northern town or city every other week.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson, walks with Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry during a visit to Doncaster Market in September 13. Photo: Jon Super - WPA Pool/Getty Images

But Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said: “This is the North’s moment - a once in a generation opportunity to power up the North and to make every arm of Government work for the people of the North.”

Mr Berry said: “Under Boris Johnson’s leadership we’ll be going further and faster than ever before to pour tens of billions of pounds into the Northern Powerhouse economy and to build that high-growth, high-wage economy that works for everyone.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirk and Malton, warned it was key his party offered something to the North because two of the key issues which drove voters to the Conservatives - Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn - would not be priorities in five years time.

He said: “There’s no debate in my experience knocking on doors that people do have confidence in Boris, they did not like Jeremy Corbyn, they did want Brexit, but we know some of those factors won’t be around in five years time so those votes are borrowed and if we want them to keep them - which we do - we will have to have some measures in place.”

Mr Hollinrake said Mr Johnson’s ‘powering up’ agenda was “particularly aimed at the North”.

He added: “There’s two key areas, one is connectivity and transport but also skills is the other area, we’ve got to make sure people are trained and retrained in skills which are key to the modern era.”

While Robert Goodwill, Tory MP for Scarborough and Whitby, suggested moving organisations such as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to Yorkshire.

He said: “What would be good to see is the decentralisation of central government, so why don’t we move IPSA out to the North, I’ve never had a face to face with IPSA so why shouldn’t they be out in Redcar?”

He said he was confident the Tories could take steps to hold to the the seats, as it seemed as if Labour was not learning lessons from the election.

"If you look at Scotland and the SNP, they have destroyed Labour, if we govern for the whole country, and if we can deliver for those in our area, we can do the same."

It comes as Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said the Tories must put Brexit aside and focus on more local issues.

He said: “The expectation that government plans to direct billions of pounds of additional investment into the Northern Powerhouse, after several years of lacklustre backing under Theresa May, is of course welcome news for those across the North.

“We expect key decisions on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail to be made in a budget early next year - questions such as whether to build the route in full and a new city centre station in Bradford will demonstrate whether the Prime Minister is truly serious about the North beyond the issue of Brexit in many communities like Scunthorpe or Stockton.

“This will be less relevant in any future election alongside a potentially very different Labour leadership.”

And Mr Berry confirmed transport was high on the list of priorities.

He said: “Our central mission in the North will be to massively upgrade transport infrastructure, sort out Northern Rail, devolve even more power and money to towns and cities, and to close the opportunity gap between North and South.”

And he said central to this was the sheer number of new Tory MPs who had come from the North.

In the north-east, north-west and Yorkshire and Humber 26 seats switched from Labour to Conservative.

He said: “Northern MPs are going to hunt like a pack in this new Parliament. The balance of power has shifted North and we’re going to make sure towns and cities across the North see real, tangible benefits.”

He added: “Millions of northerners put their faith in the Conservative Party last week and we will do everything we possibly can to repay people’s confidence.

“We won’t take you for granted and we won’t let you down."