George Osborne has warned Theresa May not to water down his Northern Powerhouse devolution project, as he launched a new think tank to keep up the pressure on the new prime minister.
In his first major intervention since leaving government, the former chancellor said progress in the north of England was “a team effort” and could not be delivered by Whitehall alone.
The comments come amid speculation the new prime minister could shift focus to other areas – a charge Downing Street denies.
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Writing in The Sun, Mr Osborne – who was sacked by May in one of her first acts as prime minister – said his plan to boost the northern economy and link five major cities was “here to stay”.
He added: “It is great that Theresa May has recently recommitted her government to the vision we set out.
“But if we’re going to make it happen we can’t just expect Whitehall to do it all. It has to be a team effort.
“The Northern Powerhouse has to be owned by the north, driven from the north, for the north.”
The Tatton MP also announced he was stetting up a new think tank, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, to help make his vision a reality.
The new body intends to hold the government's feet to the fire on the devolution of powers, the improvement of transport links and the election of regional mayors.
Osborne went on: "In the space of just two years, we've created powerful new mayors, committed to huge new transport and science projects and attracted investment from around the world.
"There's real excitement now in the North about what we can achieve if we work together. I don't want us to lose that."