The recent Queen’s speech, along with the growing divisions in the Conservative Party over the EU referendum, have focused attention on how this Government will be remembered after David Cameron steps down in 2019. Many mentioned prison reform, improving university standards and tackling extremism, as signs of the Prime Minister’s determination to establish his legacy as a social reformer, guided by the compassionate conservatism which characterised his earliest pronouncements as Tory leader.
Less remarked upon, however, was the renewed commitment in the speech to building the Northern Powerhouse, and empowering cities in the North to fulfil their economic potential – another key way in which the Government hopes to leave its stamp long after Cameron has left office. This ambition was also evident in George Osborne’s budget statement in March, in which he confirmed plans for the new high speed train-link between Manchester and Leeds, as part of the Government’s commitment to ‘rebalancing our country’.
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