he Prime Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are being invited by the UK government to join in what it has hailed as a “new collective effort to level up” the whole of the UK. United.
The move came as the Conservative Westminster administration prepared to publish its Leveling Up white paper.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has come under fire following the ‘partygate’ allegations, will try to deflect attention from the ongoing saga by insisting that his government’s ‘defining mission’ is to ‘bring level” across the country so that people have “access to the same opportunities”, regardless of where they live in the UK.
Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove is to invite Scottish First Minister Nicole Sturgeon, along with his Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford and Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill from Northern Ireland, to take part in the project, calling on the four nations to work together in the same way they did when rolling out the Covid vaccine.
It is the most comprehensive and ambitious plan of its kind this country has ever seen and it will ensure that the government continues to rise to the challenge and respond to the needs of the British people.
In addition, the Glasgow City Region will be one of three new Innovation Acceleration Areas and will receive a share of £100m of UK Government funding with the aim of encouraging the work of innovation and research and development and stimulate local opportunities.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the White Paper, the Prime Minister said: ‘From day one, this Government’s defining mission has been to level this country, to break the link between geography and destiny so that no matter where you live, you have access to the same opportunities.
He added: “The challenges we face have been ingrained over generations and cannot be solved overnight, but this white paper is the critical next step.
“It’s a vision of the future that will see public spending on R&D increase in all parts of the country, transportation connectivity improve, faster broadband in every community, life expectancy increase, crime violence decrease, schools improve and private sector investment unleashes. ”
The Prime Minister said: ‘This is the most comprehensive and ambitious plan of its kind this country has ever seen and it will ensure the government continues to rise to the challenge and meet the needs of the British people.’
Mr Gove meanwhile described the UK as “an unprecedented success story with one of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world”.
However, he said: “Not everyone shares the UK’s success equally. Big cities like Glasgow, Belfast, Swansea and Manchester, and proud cities from Aberystwyth to Armagh, Bangor and Yeovil, have huge potential but contain inequalities that hold too many people back.
“Our ambitious plan to unite and level the whole of the UK aims to end this historic injustice and call time on the postcode lottery.”
But he added: “We will only be successful if all layers of government – UK, devolved and local – work together.
“We have seen through the success of the vaccine rollout what we can accomplish when we come together. United, there is no challenge that we cannot overcome.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has urged Holyrood ministers to work with the UK government to “improve lives across Scotland”.
The Curator added: “Initiatives such as the Glasgow City region becoming an innovation accelerator, unlocking access to a share of £100m of new funding, will help Scotland continue its vital role in maintaining the UK at the forefront of global science and research.
“Through locally driven partnerships in close collaboration with the UK government, the region will become a major innovation hub offering high-end jobs.
“This, together with the UK government’s commitment to invest a £20 billion research and development budget outside the greater south east of England, is great news for Scotland and the UK. broadly as we deliver on our upgrade commitments.”