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UK News Johnson's breezy promise to 'level up' the country now seems a lot trickier

07:15  28 november  2020
07:15  28 november  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Johnson is unaccountably celebrated as a brilliant prose stylist but frequently spouts the sort of sub-inspirational shit you might Almost the entire country will now be in the toughest two tiers – which are themselves not Hence why, up and down the country today, people feel led up the garden path.

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Standing on the steps of Downing Street after winning the 2019 election, Boris Johnson directly addressed the country: "If you ask yourselves what is this new government going to do, what is he going to do with his extraordinary majority, I will tell you... we are going to unite and level up."

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: It has been almost a year since Boris Johnson won the 2019 General Election © Imagebridge It has been almost a year since Boris Johnson won the 2019 General Election

It was less than a year ago that he made his victory speech, but it feels like a lifetime.

"Levelling up" was the driving aim behind Boris Johnson's premiership - but, after the economic battering of coronavirus - is it still achievable?

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A. Belgium has always had a lot more than the faceless administrative buildings that you can see in In some regions of the country , farm holidays are available. There visitors can (for a small cost) The Belgians are keen on their food, and the country is very well supplied with excellent restaurants to

On this week's Sophy Ridge on Sunday, we visited Sheffield to investigate.

There's clearly a huge economic potential across the north of England, exemplified by Sheffield University's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which is helping put Britain at the front in the competitive market of precision engineering.

The company exports across the world through Rolls Royce and Siemens, and has hired six additional people since the first lockdown in March.

But - with national debt now standing at a higher level than the entire UK GDP, and the additional pressures of Brexit looming by the end of the year - will the green business shoots in the north continue to grow?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week unveiled a £4bn levelling up fund in his spending review, to support towns and cities outside London and the South East.

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Boris Johnson blasts 'gloomy' official government Covid economic predictions and vows NO rise in Levelling - Up Fund worth £4billion for local projects in towns and cities across the country . 'It seems more likely than not that spending will end up significantly higher than set out today, and so borrowing

4 The bill seems very high to me. 5 Weve had an argument, so we arent speaking to each other at the moment. 6 My mum thinks my diet is awful these days. 6 We havent paid the gas bill yet. 7 Have you ever wasted a lot of money on something? 8 Im sure I havent borrowed any money from you last week.

But while Advanced Manufacturing's managing director Gareth Morgan says he's "enthused and excited" that levelling up is on the political agenda, he admits "it's probably not enough" money to make a significant difference.

Perhaps even more importantly - for many the levelling up agenda is not just about the amount of money, it's about decentralising power from Westminster, with decisions about investments and funding happening locally rather than through central government.

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Henri Murison, of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "If you still have power centralised in Whitehall, your levelling up fund is a beauty pageant, projects for parts of the north and Midlands... to parade in front of officials - that's not really trusting people.

"The problem is even if you're more generous financially - if you don't trust people, you don't give them real power and then I don't think that really does begin to close the divide between north and south."

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Now to the left, closer to the wall.’ Then there were some scratching sounds as if someone was moving furniture. I got out of the bed and headed to the living room. The circus travelled all over the country and even abroad. They never stayed in one place for a long time and she could not attend school.

Now to the left, closer to the wall.’ Then there were some scratching sounds as if someone was moving furniture. I got out of the bed and headed to the living room. The circus travelled all over the country and even abroad. They never stayed in one place for a long time and she could not attend school.

The Conservative MPs who turned Labour's "Red Wall" blue at the last election will also be keen that the PM sticks to his promise to level up.

Jake Berry - the Conservative MP and former Northern Powerhouse minister - has set up the 50-strong Northern Research Group of Tory MPs in the north of England, Wales and the Scottish borders to call on the prime minister to tackle the north-south divide.

Nick Fletcher - the first-ever Conservative MP for Don Valley - told me that levelling up "can take many forms".

"People desperately need to feel as though the government cares about the people in the north. I think they feel as though they've been left behind for such a long time and everything happens in the south, or at least that's how they feel and there's definitely a certain amount of truth in that," he said.

Back in December, the breezy promise to level up seemed easy. Now, with the economy crippled by COVID, debt soaring and many of the towns the prime minister promised to help hamstrung under Tier 3 restrictions, the task ahead is far trickier. It is far from clear whether the end result will be a levelling up or a levelling down.

In his speech on the steps of Downing Street, the prime minister said he wanted "to speak directly to those who made it possible and to all those who voted for us, for the first time, and those whose pencils may have wavered over the ballot and who heard the voices of their parents and their grandparents whispering anxiously in their ears".

They lent him their votes at the last election and, unless he fulfils his promise to level up the communities where they live, they may not do so again.

In Sudan, Ethiopian refugees try to rebuild life in their camp .
© ASHRAF SHAZLY An Ethiopian refugee sells tea, in a transit camp in Sudan, November 26, 2020 Samarwat Tkhali, 10, has been walking around for a week the streets of "Village 8" in Sudan, where thousands of Ethiopians have taken refuge fleeing the war in Tigray. To survive, she sells the chocolate cakes bought by her father. In this miserable village, where some 15,000 Ethiopian refugees are crowded near the border, she approaches the people by asking them timidly: "Do you want to taste one?".

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