City leader slams Boris Johnson for ‘deciding to go on holiday and play with jets’ as fears grow over upgrade scheme

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The outgoing Prime Minister, who was recently pictured wearing a pilot’s uniform and flying in a Typhoon fighter, came under fire from Sunderland Council leader Graeme Miller.

Meanwhile, a new report has found public spending per person in the North has actually been below the English average since 2019.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Birmingham.

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Cllr Miller told a North East Combined Authority (NECA) meeting in South Shields last week that local leaders were “watching with interest and concern” after the chaos in Westminster in recent weeks, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss se now beating to take over. Downing Street.

He accused Mr Johnson of ‘deciding to go on holiday and play with jets’ as the contest to replace him continues, adding: ‘We all know that the real success of the upgrade will only be when there is visible improvement in people’s lives.”

The two Remaining Conservative leadership candidates have previously backed the leveling agenda from the start of their leadership campaigns and in a televised debate.

Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council

There have been particular concerns in the North East about the impact the government shake-up will have on a long-awaited devolution deal for the region, which could bring in £3bn of investment over 30 years and see a new mayor elected to cover Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Talks on the deal, which could bring together councils on either side of the Tyne after a bitter political split dating back to the collapse of a previous deal in 2016, were at an advanced stage before the mass resignation of ministers that prompted Mr. Johnson to intervene. down earlier this month.

Cllr Miller told the NECA meeting that further decentralization of funding and powers to the North East would bring impactful change “if we can agree on the right deal”.

He added: “We need, more than ever, a strengthened relationship with the UK government to provide the fiscal and policy development that will allow us to bring about a step change in economic growth.”

The proposed new combined mayoral authority would not include County Durham at this stage, with the Coalition Council administration keen to explore the possibility of a single county devolution package.

It is unclear at this stage whether this option, announced by the Prime Minister a year ago, will still be pursued, or whether Durham could still try to link up with the other six authorities in the North East, or even join the mayor of Tees Valley.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Durham County Council has yet to hold talks with Greg Clarke since he replaced the sacked Michael Gove as upgrade secretary.

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Edward L. Robinett