Leeds ‘could have its own Boris’ says Osborne

George Osborne looks at M1 improvements in Yorkshire yesterday
George Osborne looks at M1 improvements in Yorkshire yesterday
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CHANCELLOR George Osborne will try and persuade cities such as Leeds to have elected mayors when he unveils a plan to grow the North economy by more than £50 billion later this year.

But Mr Osborne insisted he would not force the region to embrace Boris Johnson style administrations as a condition of major investment to help the North compete on the global economic stage.

The Chancellor set out his vision last month to turn the North into an economic “powerhouse” by dramatically improving connections between its major cities.

And yesterday he went further, promising to deliver a clear plan for how it will be achieved as the centrepiece of his Autumn Statement - his annual update on the economy - later this year.

The Chancellor said he would draw on a string of reports - including one published yesterday by cities including Leeds - calling for a £15 billion investment in transport over 15 years - to shape his plan.

Mr Osborne said his plan will include the offer of “a major transfer of powers and budgets to cities in the north” who choose to have elected mayors.

Two years ago Leeds and Wakefield voters rejected plans for a elected mayors to run their affairs.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post during a visit to Wetherby firm Arville Textiles yesterday, Mr Osborne said: “I think great global cities almost always have elected mayors. I think that provides a focal point for accountability.

“So I am going to make an offer, I’m not imposing anything, I’m saying it’s their for people if they want to take it either in West Yorkshire or Manchester or wherever and say if you want much more local power on housing, over transport, over skills, like you see in London, then go for an elected mayor.”

Coun Judith Blake.

Leeds council leader’s talks with chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier