‘The only thing that’s boring is opposition’ – Labour leader Keir Starmer promises jobs and skills cash in pitch to North East voters as Tory leadership contest heats up
Sir Keir Starmer has used a speech in the North East to accuse Boris Johnson of failing to deliver on any of his levelling up promises.
Speaking in the region on Monday (July 11), the Labour leader said Britian was “stuck” and called for a general election to be held.
He also highlighted what he called the “fantasy economics” and unfunded spending commitments, estimated to be worth more than £200 billion, made over the weekend by Conservative leadership candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson.
But despite asserting “levelling up has not happened”, when asked how a Starmer government address regional inequalities, he was light on specific policy pledges.
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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service following the event at the Sage Gateshead, the opposition leader said: “Great promises were made by Boris Johnson and none of them have been delivered. That is why the whole country is absolutely fed up with him.
“Levelling up has not happened. But it is no good the Tory candidates who want to be leader of the Tory Party coming along now and pretending they’ve been on the moon for the last three years or 12 years or that none of this has anything to do with them.
“They have imposed 15 tax rises on people in the middle of a cost of living crisis. We have got low wages and high prices. This is really making it hard for families to make ends meet and that is no way to level up.
“To level up you need to have a positive case for changing the economy and making sure that, wherever you live , you get the chance for that next generation of jobs, the skills, the high-paid jobs that are needed to take our country forward. That is why I have said consistently that we need a change of government, not just a change at the top of the Tory Party.”
However, asked what specific action Labour would take to bring jobs, investment and decision-making powers to the North East, Sir Keir, who found out earlier this month he would not be fined over the 'Beergate’ row, did not make any detailed policy commitments.
Instead he replied Labour would “invest across the North East to make sure that the next generation of jobs are secured here in the North East” and consider education changes to give people “the skills they need”.
Starmer also used his speech to address questions over whether he had the right personality to become Prime Minister.
He added: “The only thing that’s boring is opposition.”
Meanwhile, Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has written to Tory leadership hopefuls to warn against the North becoming “lost in the political wilderness”, calling on wannabe prime ministers to sign a levelling up pledge.
He said: “In 2019 voters across the North put their faith in Boris Johnson and the Conservatives because he promised to invest and level up their towns; providing significant funding for places like Redcar, Dewsbury, Blackpool and Bury. Generations of families in these towns had never considered voting for us before the 2019 general election and we cannot ignore these voters.”