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Starmer woos metro mayors with new council

LABOUR is to establish a new council of regions and nations to co-ordinate central and devolved government, Sir Keir Starmer announced today.

It will meet regularly and around the country, he told a meeting in Downing Street of metro mayors from across England.

“Economy and growth is the number one mission of this Labour government in 2024,” the Prime Minister told the first ever meeting of mayors.

“If it’s going to be growth that is worth having, it’s got to be across the country and in every single place and raising standards in every single place. And so, you are all absolutely central to it.

“It’s that partnership we talked about a number of times before the election, but what I wanted to do today was to double down on that commitment and to do it really early on into the government, so it wasn’t weeks or months down the line before we had a chance to meet like today to get on with that discussion.”

The mayors were delighted by this. West Yorkshire’s Tracey Brabin said: “Being able to have the tools and the freedoms and flexibilities that we discussed in that meeting, I think is going to be a game changer.”

Andy Burnham from Greater Manchester added that “to have a council of the regions and nations meeting regularly means we can be sure that the voice of Greater Manchester, of the north of England, is heard at the heart of Whitehall on an ongoing basis.

“It’s a big change to the way this country is run, and it’s a very welcome change, a very positive change.”

Mr Burnham also appealed for local rail services around Manchester to be placed under mayoral control, ending the “daily misery” of the present system.

The sole Tory in the group, Teeside’s Ben Houchen, was also effusive. He said that Starmer “was very keen to impress upon me that he wanted to put the country first, he wanted to work with me, irrespective of party politics, to get things done to deliver on his growth agenda.

“I’ve always said that I’ll work with anybody if it’s going to help me deliver for the people of Teesside, Darlington, Hartlepool.”

The new relationships will not, however, be about “levelling up.”

Housing minister Jim McMahon said the phrase, popularised  but not delivered by Boris Johnson, would be dropped from the department’s title since “it was only ever a slogan.”

 

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