Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS

PM under fire for claiming Transport for North budget not cut by 40%

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS
Photo: Creative Commons

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to set the record straight after claiming there has not been a 40% cut to Transport for the North’s budget.

Board papers for the transport body, which aims to boost connectivity in the North of England, said core funding from the Government would drop from £10 million in 2020/21 to £6 million in 2021/22.

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Mr Johnson was asked by Labour former minister Dame Diana Johnson how the cut fitted with his plan for “levelling up” the North.

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The Prime Minister replied: “There has been no such cut. We intend to invest massively in Northern Powerhouse Rail, in railways in the North and across the entire country.”

But this is contrary to a funding letter Transport for the North says it received from the Department for Transport on January 4, despite having requested further funding.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “Either the Prime Minister thinks he can lie with impunity or he simply wasn’t aware that he has cut the budget of Transport for the North by 40%. It’s hard to know which is more damning.

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“Whatever the explanation, he should return to the House of Commons and put the record straight. The reality is the rhetoric may have changed but the Tory record remains the same – and it’s one of the North losing out under Conservative governments.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham was also critical of the Prime Minister, saying the cut was a terribly timed “bolt out of the blue” which raised fears the Government wanted “to turn down the volume on the northern voice”.

“It doesn’t build confidence in the North at this particular moment in time to see a budget cut of that size,” the Labour politician said.

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“The record I think will need to be corrected because there has been a cut. If the Prime Minister was unaware of that cut perhaps it might now be reversed which obviously would be welcome from our point of view.”

Downing Street declined to retract the remarks when told both the GLA and Transport for the North confirmed they were wrong.

Instead, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister is always accurate when he is talking about such issues.”

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...