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UK PM must do more for the north of England, say lawmakers

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson must show how he will help the north of England, more than 50 of his lawmakers demanded in a letter, calling for a roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions and accelerated infrastructure projects for the region.

Higher infection levels in the north of England mean there are tighter COVID-19 restrictions there, leading local politicians to warn that their areas are being harder hit by the pandemic.

Johnson’s Conservatives won a landslide victory last year, buoyed by support from areas in northern England which had not previously voted for them, after a promise to “level up” regions where investment and productivity lags that of London.

But now the tougher restrictions in those areas threaten to set back those regions further, prompting Conservative MPs there to call on Johnson to do more.

“We have long needed a good deal for the North from the Government and the virus has only exacerbated that need,” said lawmaker William Wragg who represents a constituency south of Manchester, in northern England.

In the letter, the lawmakers group call for a “clear roadmap” out of the government’s highest lockdown tier, which takes in huge areas of northern England including Manchester, Liverpool and South Yorkshire.

They also request that infrastructure projects such as new road and rail projects are accelerated to create jobs and boost growth and productivity, as well as a specific Northern Economic Recovery Plan.

“We cannot forget that we must deliver on our commitments made during that election, to level-up northern communities and create opportunity across our region,” lawmaker Jake Berry, who represents a constituency north of Manchester, said in a statement.

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