Cheshire MP George Osborne is in Manchester today to officially launch the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
A group of between 10 and 15 companies will fund and help set the agenda for the new not-for-profit Northern Powerhouse Partnership. Construction giant Mace, Associated British Ports and Barclays bank are among the first to join.
The new partnership will set the agenda for new ideas to put to government for how best to stimulate growth and generate investment in the North.
The task of assembling the business group is being led by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group
Following his move to the back benches under Theresa May’s new regime, George Osborne says he will stay in the Commons to “fight for the things I care about” as he launches a think tank to promote his Northern Powerhouse plan.
In June of this year, The Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, commissioned by Transport for the North and published today, identified key capabilities across the North.
As part of David Cameron’s cabinet, the former Chancellor announced the idea to create a Northern Powerhouse when he visited the region in May 2015. Mr Osborne will be Chairman of the new partnership.
During his visit, he will outline how he intends to carry on the momentum gathered previously and bring together the major cities across the north of England. He will encourage these cities to work collaboratively to create prosperity and provide a strong alternative to the current southern-centric economic focus.
Speaking at a press conference at Manchester Town Hall earlier today, Tatton MP Osborne said: “When I launched the idea of Northern Powerhouse I said I would work tirelessly with anyone and everyone to make it a reality.
“But even I have been taken aback by the huge support it’s attracted, across political parties, businesses and communities.
“In the space of just two years, we’ve created powerful new mayors, committed to huge new transport and science projects, and attracted investment from around the world.
“There’s a real excitement now in the north about what we can achieve if we work together. I don’t want us to lose that.
“That’s why I’m so pleased major businesses, civic leaders and others have worked with me to create this new Northern Powerhouse Partnership. I’m also glad that the government has given its support.
“Chairing this new Partnership will now be a major focus of my political energies. The Northern Powerhouse is here to stay.”
The MP for Tatton in Cheshire returned to the back benches following Mrs May’s cabinet reshuffle, and said chairing the new body – the Northern Powerhouse Partnership – would “now be a major focus of my political energies”.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The Northern Powerhouse initiative is about supporting and empowering the north to boost its productivity, create more wealth and jobs and make a greater contribution to the national economy. It’s about investing intelligently in proven strengths and the infrastructure and assets needed to support them.
“The Northern Powerhouse Partnership will help provide the insight and evidence base to drive the initiative forwards. The uncertainty following the Brexit vote in the EU referendum makes economic stability, confidence and support for strategic commitments such as the Northern Powerhouse more important than ever.”
Manchester Airports Group chief executive Charlie Cornish said: “The importance of a strong Northern economy is more widely acknowledged than ever before and there is no doubt that the Northern Powerhouse vision has already shown the world that the region is both an attractive place to visit and to do business with.
“I welcome the formation of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and we look forward to working with the other members to ensure a continued focus on increasing productivity, and improving transport links and investment across the North.
“Transport lies at the foundation of every successful economy and whilst connecting the North to the rest of the world is a crucial part of the equation, it is also imperative that the region is better connected with itself.”
Earlier, Mr Osborne told the BBC: “To be honest, there was a little bit of a wobble about when we had the new administration about whether they were still committed to the concept of the Northern Powerhouse.”
He added: “I don’t think anything has fundamentally changed from the deal that we put together in government just a few months ago… it looks to me pretty much like the same deal.”
Mrs May is now building on Mr Osborne’s project, having put Treasury aide Neil O’Brien in charge of it in her policy unit and appointing a Northern Powerhouse minister, Andrew Percy.