Hello. Boris Johnson won the election in 2019 because he pledged to ensure ‘Brexit was over’ but, beyond that, a frequent criticism was that he had no idea what was going on. wanted to direct for Britain. He was never interested in the details of public policy and was always more of a sloganeering politician. But he had a slogan, “leveling up,” around which an entire domestic policy agenda could be built, and last fall Michael Gove was named leveling up secretary and tasked with fleshing out Johnson’s “vision”. Today, he publishes a 350-page white paper containing his answer.
My colleagues Heather Steward and Josh Hallidy have a good look, based in part on a look published by Gove’s department overnight. It’s here.
Related: Upgrade: Gove calls time on ‘postcode lottery’ as strategy rolls out
Never one to undersell a government initiative, Johnson described it as the most ambitious plan of its kind ever seen. In a statement released last night, he said:
From day one, this government’s defining mission has been to level this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live, you have access to the same opportunities.
It is the most comprehensive and ambitious plan of its kind this country has ever seen and it will ensure that the government continues to rise to the challenge and respond to the needs of the British people.
But, in truth, all governments, at least since the 1960s, have had some sort of regional strategy, and none of them has been powerful enough to prevent Britain from having a worse record on regional inequality than almost any other comparable economy. From what we know so far of the white paper, which does not come with any funding not already announced by the government, it is not clear that the policies of Johnson and Gove will be materially more transformative than their predecessors.
Last night Darren Jonesthe Labor chairman of the Commons Affairs Committee, said the targets set out in the white paper were essentially a rehash of those in the industrial strategy drawn up by Theresa May which Johnson had abandoned.
I’ll be covering many more reactions to the white paper as the day goes on, as well as all the other politics on what promises to be a busy day. Here is the agenda.
9:30 a.m.: Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, gives evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee on the Integrated Transport Plan.
10 a.m.: Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, testifies before the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.
12 p.m.: Boris Johnson takes on Keir Starmer in PMQ.
After 12:30 p.m.: Michael Gove, the Upgrade Secretary, makes a statement to MPs on the White Paper Upgrade.
2 p.m.: The ONS publishes the main results of its weekly infection survey.
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