Liz Truss’s Government has not abandoned levelling up, according to the man who used to oversee the drive to spread opportunity across the UK.
Former levelling up secretary Michael Gove also said the UK could not afford “not to level up”.
Asked whether the Truss premiership spelled an end for Boris Johnson’s levelling up election pledge, Mr Gove said he did not think so.
He said: “Sometimes, while the aroma of the broth is the same and the basic ingredients are retained, you might add a little bit of paprika here or a little less garlic there, and that is what a new prime minister is entitled to do and should do to take account of the prevailing circumstances.”
Speaking at a fringe event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank, he claimed proposals for enterprise zones were among the ideas that demonstrated the new Government has “a commitment to absolutely press ahead with levelling up”.
He later added: “We cannot afford not to level up, because if every part of the United Kingdom were as productive as London and the South East, we would be the most productive country in Europe as well as obviously being the most beautiful.”
Mr Gove has been outspoken at the party conference, indicating he did not support the now-abandoned cut in the 45p rate of income tax, and objecting to suggestions that benefits may not rise in line with inflation.
Asked about reports that Rachel Wolf, architect of the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto, was not confident that levelling up would continue under Ms Truss, Mr Gove disagreed.
“Rachel is brilliant and a great friend. I think she is erring towards pessimism,” he said.