Rishi Sunak has declared himself the “Prime Minister for the North” as he pledged a “fair deal” for the region.
Speaking to Northern MPs and voters on his return from a whistle-stop trip to Washington DC, he said there was “no route to electoral success” for the Conservatives without them, as the party’s majority “runs through” the North.
He also pointed out that “the person in Whitehall doesn’t know best” as Sir Jake Berry, the former Tory Party chairman, urged the Conservatives to “blow up blobonomics” if they want to hold on to the Red Wall.
Delivering the keynote address at the second annual conference of the influential Tory Northern Research Group (NRG) in Doncaster, the Prime Minister said that the Government was “absolutely committed” to the North.
He deflected calls for a minister for the North by declaring himself “Prime Minister for the North”, adding that he believed in a “fair deal” for the region.
Sir Jake, the founder of the NRG, used his own speech to call on the Tories to be “brave enough” to tackle the “orthodoxy in Whitehall” in their next manifesto.
“It has to be a plan to break up the political, social and economic influence of the blob – or blobonomics, as I call it,” he said.
Mr Sunak said that he wanted the Tories’ pitch for the next national vote to be “distinctly Conservative”.
“I want it to reflect that we are proud of our nation, we support the institutions that make it great – from the Royal family to every family,” he said.
“We want to allow people to take back control of their lives. We are the party that believes that the individual makes better choices about their own life than the state.
“We know that the person in Whitehall doesn’t know best. Our manifesto will reaffirm that we are the party with the energy and the ideas to change Britain.”
Mr Sunak said he had ordered his Cabinet to “focus relentlessly on delivery” to prove to voters that the Tories are “worthy of their trust”.
He added: “I know that many voters here lent us their vote. They decided that after generations of being let down by Labour, they deserved something better. And they were right.
“And we must show them that we are worthy of that trust and support by delivering for them.”
Nick Fletcher, the Tory MP for Don Valley, said the fact Mr Sunak made time to come to the conference so soon after his trip Stateside showed “how important” the region was to him.