Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke and Tees Valley Metro Mayor Ben Houchen have published a joint statement in The Telegraph backing Boris. The move is particularly interesting given Clarke backed Truss and Houchen backed Rishi in the summer leadership contest. The letter in The Telegraph says:
“Boris is the person we need to lead our country and our party.
He won the greatest election victory for years on a mandate to unite and level up the UK, and inspired millions of people who had never voted Conservative before to get behind a generous, optimistic vision of what Britain can be.
People on Teesside love Boris because he recognised that while talent is evenly distributed across the country, opportunity is not. Boris gave us that opportunity.
Teesside has had difficult times and is now levelling up because of Boris. We know that for us, like Boris, the comeback will be greater than the setback.”
Houchen is a real loss for Rishi…
Click here to access the full spreadsheet.
Team Rishi has slammed Liz Truss over her policy announcement last night that she can save up to £8.8 billion by replacing National Pay Boards with Regional Pay Boards. This sum immediately raised eyebrows given the total Civil Service salary budget is around £16.5 billion. The footnotes of the press release specified this figure is “the potential savings if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers in the long term,” allowing her opponents to spin the policy as one of cutting nurses’ and teachers’ pay in the Red Wall while improving the pay packets of those in London and the South East. Tees Valley Metro Mayor Ben Houchen is not happy:
“There is simply no way you can do this without a massive pay cut for 5.5m people including nurses, police officers and our armed forces outside London.”
“Liz Truss’s campaign is explicit that their savings target is only possible ‘if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers’.”
“This is a ticking time bomb set by team Truss that will explode ahead of the next general election.”
Team Rishi’s got their calculators out:
“In total more than 5 .7 million public sector workers would see their pay being cut by an average of £1,500 a year under these plans (Dividing Liz’s £8.8 billion savings by the number of public sector workers having their pay cut – 5.7 million).”
Rishi also uses Liz’s policy to once again accuse her of being the one succumbing to Treasury orthodoxy, after the Institute for Government pointed out on the Today Programme this morning that it’s a policy that comes up for discussion every decade: first in 2002, then under the coalition, calling it a “very Treasury idea”. Rishi doubles down by calling the policy “a gift to the Labour Party and Keir Starmer. Her plan would punish hard working nurses, police officers and soldiers across the country, including in the Red Wall just before a General Election”. Rishi was already reportedly performing better among Southern members – can this latest attack help him claw back up North?
Team Rishi have tin-ears, arguing against reforming civil service pay to reflect local market conditions and for keeping a national pay rate using TUC attack lines that are a misrepresentation of the policy. Something the TUC has long defended when both Blair and Cameron tried unsuccessfully to reform. Will members side with Rishi and the TUC arguing for no change, or policy change based on local pay rates?
UPDATE: Team Truss say
“Over the last few hours there has been a wilful misrepresentation of our campaign. Current levels of public sector pay will absolutely be maintained. Anything to suggest otherwise is simply wrong. Our hard-working frontline staff are the bedrock of society and there will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.”
Guido was on hand to hear Rishi Sunak’s introductory speech at Ben Houchen’s Northern Powerhouse Leaders’ Lunch this afternoon. With an opening gag that last night’s WhatsApp outage was “the longest time I’ve had in this job without Ben Houchen messaging me“, Sunak claimed that there is a “new age of optimism” in the north thanks to Red Wall Tories, and heaped them with praise for “helping to change our party and change our country“. “In me, you have a Chancellor who is going to be with you every step of the way,” he added. Houchen thanked Rishi by gifting him a celebratory coin forged from some of the last iron made on Teesside. It looks like Rishi’s still a popular man amongst his peers…
Incredible result from the Tees Valley, as Ben Houchen wins re-election with 73% of the vote, up from his 2017 score of just 51.1%. A landslide.
The scores in total:
Houchen (Con): 121,964
Jacobs (Lab): 45,641
Turnout up as well, from 21.3% to 33.95%…
Following Guido’s coverage of Birmingham council’s David Brent-inspired woke street naming, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen was more than keen to point out he is determined to stand against this trend: instead campaigning in the complete opposite direction. This week he launched a personal campaign to see Teesside street “Council of Europe Boulevard” renamed after local D-Day and industry hero Stanley Hollis. Ironically for Brexiteer Ben Houchen, his mayoral office is situated on the absurdly-named street…
The street was renamed as such in 1990, changing from “Trafalgar Street”, despite – as Houchen writes in a letter to Stockton Council – not believing “that there is, or ever was, any sympathy for this name change from local people”:
“There is hardly a more prominent but inappropriately named road in Teesside than ‘Council of Europe Boulevard'”.
Birmingham: watch and learn…
Over the last year, politics in Teesside has been completely uprooted. Labour has lost control of Darlington, Stockton and Hartlepool council, lost the Middlesbrough mayoralty, lost half their seats in Redcar and lost their majority on Middlesbrough council; in the General Election, the Tories beat Labour’s regional votes by over 10,000. Going well for Labour then…
Despite the regional wipeout, in a BBC interview yesterday Labour’s Tees Valley mayoral candidate failed to comprehend why being asked about Labour’s collapse was “relevant”. Candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs was asked why Labour has siphoned so many votes. She flatly refused to answer the question…
“I don’t want to answer that one.”
Current Tory mayor Ben Houchen responded with all guns blazing, saying
“This is what happens when Labour parachute in a Corbynista candidate who has no real world experience. Let’s not forget, local Labour members weren’t allowed to select their candidate and this is what they’ve been lumped with. A remainiac who can’t even answer the most basic of questions about the local area.”
Westminster politicos were worried things would get boring after the general election result – doesn’t seem that way out in the regions…