Northern Powerhouse: George Osborne confirms plans to lead new partnership on flagship policy

Francesca Washtell
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George Osborne kickstarted the Northern Powerhouse project when he was chancellor (Source: Getty)

George Osborne has confirmed plans to lead a new Northern Powerhouse Partnership and has said he will stay in the Commons to "fight for things I care about".

At an event in Manchester this morning the former chancellor pledged to preserve and build on the work towards his flagship policy he started while at Number 11.

The establishment of a new Northern Powerhouse body was revealed exclusively by City A.M. earlier this week.

Read more: It's more vital than ever that the Northern Powerhouse succeeds

Osborne said: "It's only been two years since I set out this vision as chancellor, and already we've made incredible progress. We’ve got agreement to create powerful new elected mayors in places like Liverpool, Manchester, Teeside and Sheffield - with elections next year.

He said he had "no idea" if the Northern Powerhouse project would be successful when he launched it in 2014.

"Instead, I’ve been completely bowled over by the huge support it has attracted from across the north, from all political parties, and from the public and private sectors. It has exceeded any expectations I might have had," he said today.

Of course, it’s still early days. Turning around 100 years of relative economic decline can't happen overnight. But there is now a real excitement in the north about what we can achieve when we work together.

If we're going to end the North-South divide we do need a partnership with national government, but we can't just expect Whitehall to do it all. It has to be a team effort.

There is now a real excitement now in the North about what we can achieve if we work together. I don’t want us to lose that.

Read more: Infrastructure needed at the heart of devolution to boost growth

Osborne also announced that the former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg will partner with the new project to support new mayors in the north of England.

The former chancellor's think tank drive comes after doubts have emerged over Theresa May's commitment to the plans for infrastructure investment and devolution in Northern cities.

Labour's candidate for mayor of Greater Manchester, MP Andy Burnham, praised Osborne's efforts for an economic and political boost to the north of England.

Read more: Small cities are key to Northern Powerhouse success, says think tank IPPR

"After a summer of speculation about the future of the Northern Powerhouse, George Osborne's intervention in this debate is extremely helpful," Burnham said.

"He knows how wrong it would be for the Tory party to have made promises to the north in advance of an election to abandon them shortly after."

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