Michael Gove delays levelling up blueprint until next year amid ‘row’ over shortage of ‘cost-effective ideas’
Boris Johnson‘s flagship plans for ‘levelling up’ the country have been delayed until next year amid claims in Westminster of rows about a shortage of ‘cost-effective ideas’.
The paper is viewed as Mr Johnson’s pandemic-delayed discharge of promises he made at the 2019 General Election to retain the Red Wall seats which switched from Labour to Tory for the first time.
A White Paper listing the ideas for redistributing resources to deprived areas of the Midlands and the North had been due to be published before Christmas by Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary
However, sources said it has been a casualty of the tensions between Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the cost of the Prime Minister’s spending plans, with Mr Sunak insisting that the total cost of the projects should be limited to £4.8 billion.
Red Wall MPs have grown increasingly restive, with many of them worrying that issues such as the Channel migrants crisis, rising taxes and increased energy and fuel costs will cost them votes at the next Election.
A source said: ‘Michael has plenty of ideas but the Treasury is reluctant to bankroll them. We need more cost-effective ideas.’
Meanwhile, a source close to Mr Gove denied the paper had been delayed due to a shortage of ideas. ‘There are a lot of policies in it,’ the source said. ‘We could do it before Christmas, but it makes more sense to present it in the New Year. It is in good shape. Michael has chaired at least five committees on it.’
The delay is likely to be seized on by Labour as a sign that Mr Johnson is failing to match his rhetoric on levelling up with actual policies and Treasury support. In his reshuffle last week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer appointed Wigan MP Lisa Nandy to shadow Mr Gove.
Some experts have likened levelling up to the drive by the German government to even out the differences between its East and West after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. But it took £2 trillion over a quarter of a century to raise living standards in the East from 60 per cent of those in West Germany to 85 per cent.
However, sources said it has been a casualty of the tensions between Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the cost of the Prime Minister’s spending plans, with Mr Sunak insisting that the total cost of the projects should be limited to £4.8 billion