Chancellor says recent focus on northern powerhouse does not come at the expense of other regions
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It is not just London and the North that should thrive, the chancellor has said ahead of his autumn statement. Political editor ANNABELLE DICKSON reports
Chancellor George Osborne has insisted he wants to build the whole country up – not just the North –claiming his recent focus on a so-called Northern Powerhouse would not come at the expense of regions like the East.
He said his final budget before the election would include regional versions of his much heralded 'long-term economic plan', which would contain a blueprint for transport improvements, science and learning in the different areas.
However, questioned on whether he would deliver the £470m needed for improvements to the Great Eastern Main Line in his Autumn Statement on December 3, he refused to confirm it would be given the green light, but said: 'I can't say more than that it is a really excellent and strong piece of work.'
Mr Osborne was speaking at a Westminster event for regional journalists and editors, where he said there was a need for a 'vibrant economic life outside London'.
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'I grew up with the cliché that if it didn't happen in London, it wasn't happening at all.
'Now I'm an MP in the North West, I have lived with another cliché, which is that London sucks the life out of the regions of our country, and that this is a permanent injustice. I reject both these clichés.' He said the capital was an 'incredible asset'.
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'It is of huge benefit to our entire national economy, but it is equally true London threatens to dominate our economy,' he added.
He said: 'Between the autumn statement and the budget we are going to be setting out long-term economic plans for different parts of the country,' adding that they would 'have a specific and tailored set of needs which reflect that different parts of our country have specific transport, science, and learning requirements'.
He said that he would embark on a pre-election tour to 'set out those long-term economic plans' Questioned on whether there was too much emphasis on the north, he said: 'This is not about one part of the country doing better as a result of doing down any other part of the country.
'I see this not so much as a north south issue, but as more of a London and the rest issue.
He said: 'People can see the investment going into the A14 and A11. I think one of the advantages I have presenting this autumn statement is pointing to a real track record of bringing improvements to East Anglia, road improvements that have not been seen for decades, but have now been delivered.'
Does the Treasury do enough for the East? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE, or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk
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