A group of 40 Conservative MPs have formed a new group to keep up the pressure on Boris Johnson to fulfil his pledge to “level up” the more deprived areas of the country.
[Leader is Neil O’Brien MP for Harborough of: “The next algorithm disaster – coming to a Conservative constituency near you. This time, it’s housing growth” fame. Owl wonders whether Simon Jupp or Neil Parish are members to put the case for the us in the far South West. Or is this just for “Red Wall” MPs?]
A study published on Monday revealed earnings in seats the Conservatives won in 2019 are on average 5% lower than in Labour-held seats.
According to report by the conservative think-tank Onward, houses in Labour seats are also worth on average £62,000 a third more.
Neil O’Brien, the MP for Harborough who is helping lead the new Tory “Levelling Up Taskforce”, said: “The coronavirus crisis has only made the case for levelling up stronger so we can get the economy moving in areas that are less well off.
“Our new Taskforce will be spearheading this vital agenda.”
Onward’s analysis showed of the bottom quarter of seats in Great Britain with the lowest earnings, more are now held by the Conservatives (77) than Labour (74).
The report also highlighted that since the mid-1990s London has pulled ahead of the rest of the country.
Having been the same size as the economy of the north of England as recently as 2004, the capital’s economy is now a quarter bigger.
In London income before tax and benefits grew two-thirds faster than the rest of the UK, and income before tax and benefits is now nearly 70% higher in London than the rest of the UK, up from around 30% higher in 1997.
Many of the MPs in the new group represent seats taken from Labour’s so-called “red wall” at the election, including Redcar’s Jacob Young and Bishop Auckland’s Dehenna Davidson.
Stoke on Trent Central MP Jo Gideon said there was “a lot of untapped potential” in parts of the country that “have felt left behind for a long time”.
Johnson’s promise to deliver for the people in traditional Labour heartlands was dealt a blow after the A-level fiasco that saw students from poorer backgrounds initially have their results downgraded more than their peers from more affluent areas.