Kuenssberg: Tories 'uncomfortable' about government spending
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The former minister launched a scathing attack on the Government’s plans to honour its election promise to deliver for left-behind communities. While praising the Prime Minister’s vision for the country, he criticised today’s blueprint for “policies that wouldn’t look out of place in Labour’s manifesto”.
The leader of the influential True-blue Tories group said information about the plans “implies the proposals are as socialist as I feared”.
“We should be using our 80-seat majority to implement conservative policies, not policies that wouldn’t look out of place in Labour’s manifesto,” he added.
“The missions are admirable, as well as some of the policies, but our answer to everything cannot be more Government, more Government, more Government.
“Let’s empower individuals and communities to take control over their lives and their areas.”
Plans unveiled by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, tasked by Mr Johnson to turn his plan for Britain, outline 12 missions the Government wants to achieve by 2030 in order to improve the lives of those outside London and the South East.
The levelling up programme includes enshrining targets on areas such as improving public transport and ensuring access to 5G broadband into law.
It also set out plans to improve life expectancy, literacy skills, and residents’ satisfaction with their town centres.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Gove said the blueprint was the “most comprehensive” plan of its kind the country has ever seen.
“From day one, the defining mission of this Government has been to level up this country,” he added.
“If places that are currently underperforming start firing on all cylinders, national GDP will rise by tens of billions each year.
“That means more growth, more jobs, and higher wages right across the UK.
“And if we can level up this country – and close our productivity gap – we will have the most prosperous economy in Europe.”
The proposals have been welcomed by Labour’s devolved leaders including Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, South Yorkshire’s Dan Jarvis, and West Yorkshire’s Tracy Brabin.
However, Sir Keir Starmer’s frontbencher team has criticised the plans.
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The party’s shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: “He talks about 12 missions, this is 12 admissions of failure.”
She added: “This system is completely broken and he’s given us more of the same.
“This was meant to be the Prime Minister’s defining mission of Government.
“I’m not surprised he was too embarrassed to come here today and to defend it himself, it’s so bad that even the Secretary of State has privately been saying that it’s rubbish.”
Hitting back, Mr Gove said Labour had “no plans, no ideas, no answers”.
He claimed the Opposition was short of ideas and if in power “borrowing would go up, interest rates would go up, the poorest in the north and midlands would miss out”.
The minister concluded: “Instead of levelling up, they would bring the economy crashing down.
“That is why we never need to have that frontbench in power, in this country, ever.”
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