“To bring different parts of our country together, my government will work to bring about a balanced economic recovery. Legislation will be introduced to provide for the devolution of powers to cities with elected metro mayors, helping to build a northern powerhouse.” – The Queen’s Speech, 27 May 2015.
The Queen’s Speech last week reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to creating a “northern powerhouse”. This term was first used by George Osborne in a speech in June 2014 and denotes the urban agglomeration of England’s Northern cities into a collective force, capable of rivaling the economic power of London. At the centre of these plans is the High Speed 3 (HS3) rail network, connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle.
While HS3 is unlikely to become a reality until the 2020s, a number of policies generally indicate that Westminster views Manchester as the flag-bearer for the rest of ‘the North’. It is already poised to take control of a devolved health and social care budget worth £6bn and will be the blueprint for other cities in Osborne’s ‘metro mayors’ proposals. Today, a £1 billion programme to transform Manchester Airport was unveiled, highlighting the global outlook of England’s de facto northern ‘capital’.