Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cameron Heads to Region and Backs North MP as Local Government Tsar

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cameron Heads to Region and Backs North MP as Local Government Tsar

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

DAVID Cameron chose the North East for his first official visit as newly-elected Prime Minister and underlined his commitment to "drive power out of London". The PM was at the Tetley's tea factory, Eaglescliffe, four days after a decisive election victory and hours after he appointed Stockton South MP James Wharton as Minister for Local Government (Northern Powerhouse), to reiterate his plan to close the gap between North and South.

Labour MPs from the region have welcomed Mr Wharton's appointment as "a step in the right direction", but called for the reinstatement of a dedicated Minister for the North East. They also warned that George Osborne's Northern Powerhouse project had so far focused too heavily on Greater Manchester.

Mr Cameron used his election victory speech outside Downing Street to declare he would be a "One Nation Conservative" PM and told a crowd at the factory he was inspired to visit Stockton by former Prime Minister and one-time Stockton MP Harold Macmillan who, he says, "cared passionately about the North East."

The PM said: "I think that is one of the most important jobs a Prime Minister can aim to do is to bring the country together, not just bring our country together in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - although that is obviously vital - but bring our country together to make sure that every part of our country benefits from a growing economy and that there are opportunities for everyone."

He added: "I'm serious about this work of rebalancing our country and rebalancing our economy, and your local MP James Wharton is going to help with that.

"I have appointed him as a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government where he, together with Greg Clark [the Communities Secretary], will work on this agenda of empowering our great Northern cities and making sure we drive power out of London, out of Westminster, out of Whitehall and I'm sure James, who got a stunning election result here in Stockton, will be a big part of that agenda."

Speaking afterwards, he praised Mr Wharton and newly-elected North MP, Berwick's Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and denied he was favouring any part of the North. …

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