Boris Johnson warned of ‘political annihilation’ if he fails to deliver levelling-up agenda

Jake Berry, chair of Northern Research Group (NRG), warned Boris Johnson that he could lose support of Red Wall Tory MPs

Labour MP says Johnson won't ever 'change' and Tories will always defend the 'indefensible'

Boris Johnson faces “political annihilation” if he fails to deliver on the levelling-up agenda and implement tax cuts, a Tory MP has warned.

Jake Berry, chair of the Northern Research Group (NRG), said Mr Johnson could lose the support of Red Wall Tory MPs if he does not implement some of the policies that are set to be unveiled at the group’s first conference on Friday.

The beleaguered prime minister is set to address the 80-strong group as he seeks to shore up support for his wavering leadership after narrowly winning a no-confidence vote last week.

Mr Berry told The Daily Telegraph: “Both the chancellor and the prime minister, however it’s come about, have the opportunity for a fresh start. This week northern colleagues were hugely in support of the prime minister, with very, very few of the 80 against him.”

The MP for Rossendale and Darwen added: “We’ve got to sell to the people of this country that we have a serious long term plan to change their economic prospects.

“And if we can do that, I firmly believe that people will absolutely back us again. I’m sorry [but] incremental government, a little tweak here and a little tweak there, just simply isn’t going to cut it. The people voted for Boris because he was different.”

Among the policies that are expected to be announced this week are a “right to devolution” for large northern areas, such as North Yorkshire, two new vocational academic institutions and a “levelling up formula” - equivalent to the Barnett formula that allocates budgets to the devolved nations.

Mr Berry added that “the wind of change blows from the north” and that if the prime minister failed to follow through with the levelling-up agenda then “political annihilation lies ahead”.

In an attempt to wrestle back momentum and inject much-needed impetus into his leadership, Mr Johnson has promised tax cuts, more measures to help with the cost-of-living crisis and urged ministers to cut spending and drive reforms in Whitehall.

He also last week confirmed government plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to tenants of housing association homes.

However his decision to announce the policy prompted fury from Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, who accused No 10 of “bouncing” the policy before it was completely ready, the Sunday Times reports.

It was pushed through by Andrew Griffith, Mr Johnson’s head of policy, despite officials not even having completed an impact assessment on the new scheme.

The prime minister has further challenges in the weeks ahead if he wants to stay in No 10, including by-elections in Wakefield and also Tiverton and Honiton, that Tory insiders expect the party to lose.

He also faces possible “vote strikes” from rebellious Tory MPs designed to paralyse parliament and a confrontation over a bill to override sections of the Northern Ireland protocol which is expected to be published next week.

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