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Northern mayors positive after first meeting with new PM and deputy

Peter Stefanovic, Twitter/X

The new government is to form a Council of Regions and Nations, new PM Sir Keir Starmer has told metro mayors from across the country.

A round table was hosted by Starmer and deputy PM, and Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government (and no longer Levelling-Up) Angela Rayner yesterday, at which local leaders learned the Labour government plans to put more power in their hands to deliver economic growth regionally. The event looked at a new partnership approach and the early actions needed to scale up devolution, helping to unlock economic growth and tackle regional inequality.

Starmer said on Twitter after the meeting: “Those with skin in the game know what’s best for their communities. Today I welcomed metro mayors into Downing Street. It is time to reset relationships and deliver growth across the whole country so that everyone is better off.”

Responses from the Northern contingent seemed to be largely positive.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “To have a council of the regions and nations, meeting regularly, just means we can be sure that the voice of Greater Manchester, of the north of England, is heard at the heart of Whitehall on an ongoing basis. It’s a big change to the way this country is run, and it’s a very welcome change, a very positive change.”

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: “Today’s meeting marked a welcome step change in the relationship between Mayors and government, and a recognition of the role we play in driving change across the country. We had a productive discussion about how we will grow our economies and put money back into people’s pockets, build new homes and improve local transport. We stand ready to deliver alongside government as we build a brighter future for all.”

Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram added: “After just a few days in office, this government is already shaping up to be one of the most pro-devolution administrations in history. That’s because Keir, Angela, Rachel and their teams recognise that Mayors can act as the delivery arms of national government and it was great to discuss how we can help them to hit the ground running.

“Whether it is driving growth, building homes, fostering innovation or equipping people with the skills they need to succeed, Mayors have already got a strong track record of turning hope into reality.”

Even Tees Valley’s Ben Houchen, something of an outlier as the only Conservative among the metro mayors, was positive following the meeting, and a 15-minute one-on-one with Starmer before he sat down with his universally Labour peers. He told ITV News: “It was a first meeting, I have never met the Prime Minister before, but it was a really positive one and I hope to build on that relationship.”

We’ll see how long that honeymoon period lasts.

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