Levelling Up being ‘defined by Left-leaning politicians’, Tory MPs complain
Left-wing leaders have seized control of devolution and are using it to push unpopular policies on voters, Tory MPs have warned Michael Gove.
Senior backbenchers are urging the Levelling Up Secretary to speed up the handover of powers to Conservative-led regions of the country.
In a letter they warned Mr Gove the Government’s flagship agenda is being “defined” by Labour politicians like Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester.
“Under current plans, English devolution is being defined by left-leaning politicians that are least capable of capitalising on what it offers,” they wrote.
“It’s vital that the Government immediately empowers other regional authorities of England to lead by example.”
The letter organised by Ben Bradley, who represents Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, has been signed by 10 Tory MPs from the East Midlands.
In it they warned that Mr Burnham is using his new powers to push local policies that “fly in the face of our vision for post-Brexit Britain”.
“Andy Burnham’s proposals for a workplace parking levy and a ‘clean-air-zone’ are the very opposite of what Red Wall communities need during a cost-of-living-crisis,” they added.
The MPs are angry that Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, which is run by Tory mayor Andy Street, have been chosen as “trailblazer” regions.
Under new deals they will be given more power over local transport including rail and buses, training and skills for adults, and the provision of housing.
They will also be allowed to raise their own cash by keeping business rates revenues for 10 years, giving them greater autonomy from central Government.
Mr Gove has said the reforms will put power in the hands of people who “understand the needs of their areas better than decision-makers in Whitehall”.
Tory MPs want to see them rolled out to other areas of the country immediately.
It comes after the Government has announced on Thursday that it has approved the creation of a free port site at East Midlands airport.
Businesses will benefit from tax breaks and streamlined regulation if they operate on the site, which is expected to bring 28,000 jobs to the region.
Mr Bradley, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "My fellow Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Council leaders have already secured a £1.4billion deal for the East Midlands as part of the East Midlands Devolution Deal, which is great news and will do so much good for so many."