‘Wobble over powerhouse is now resolved’

Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese  , Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and former Chancellor George Osborne
Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese , Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and former Chancellor George Osborne
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Former chancellor George Osborne said the Government was now “100 per cent committed” to his Northern Powerhouse project, despite a “wobble” when Theresa May became Prime Minister.

But the MP said he had not yet met or discussed the agenda with the PM, as he launched the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a think-tank to drive the project forward and help push the agenda of greater powers and investment for the regions.

The new body, an independent group of politicians, business and civic leaders, which does not yet have an office, will be chaired by Mr Osborne, who has recruited the former mayor of New York, billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, to advise the powerful new elected ‘’metro’’ mayors being created in city regions.

The future of the initiative, launched by Mr Osborne in 2014, came under question after Mrs May’s arrival in 10 Downing Street in July.

She initially appeared reluctant to use the phrase ‘’Northern Powerhouse’’, speaking instead of a broader nationwide industrial strategy, rather than a regional focus solely on the north.

But at the launch of the new think-tank in Manchester yesterday, Mr Osborne said Mrs May’s new administration were now on-board with his ideas.

Mr Osborne said: “Of course the partnership with Government is important, but the Northern Powerhouse has to be owned by the north, run by the north, it’s got to have enthusiasm in the north.”

Lancashire council leaders said they were pushing ahead with their bid for a combined county authority. Preston Council leader Peter Rankin said last month: “We are hopeful we’ll get approval from Government to be a combined authority, and we’ll then go on to ask Government for devolved powers and take it from there.”