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Boris Johnson asks crowd to applaud him during rambling speech

Prime minister’s high-speed rail pledge initially met with silence

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 27 July 2019 13:55 BST
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'That's the spirit!' Boris Johnson asks audience in Manchester to give applause

Boris Johnson has asked a crowd of listeners to applaud him during a rambling speech in Manchester.

The new prime minister delivered a keynote address at the Science and Industry Museum to a group of around 100 people.

Mr Johnson unveiled his pledge to fund a high speed rail route between Leeds and Manchester during his remarks.

“I want to be the PM who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail what we did with Crossrail in London,”he said, initially to silence.

“And today I am going to deliver on my commitment to that vision with a pledge to fund the Leeds to Manchester route.

“It will be up to local people and us to come to an agreement on the exact proposal they want, but I have tasked officials to accelerate their work on these plans so we are ready to do a deal in the autumn – feel free to applaud,” he said, prompting a few people in the crowd to clap.

“That’s the spirit, it’s the right thing to do,” he said, laughing, in response to the applause.

“It’s time we got this whole thing moving, it’s time we put some substance into the idea of Northern Powerhouse rail,” the prime minister added.

Labour's Rachael Maskell, the shadow transport minister, ridiculed Mr Johnson's speech, claiming: "It's quite embarrassing the prime minister had to ask people to applaud his announcement of a faster line between Leeds and Manchester.

“It's quite clear the northern audience know that it's not even a half measure and not worth clapping. Council leaders, Mayors, businesses and transport for the North all want Labour's Crossrail for the North from Liverpool to Hull and up to the North East, as we promised in our last manifesto, to truly unleash the economic potential of the North."

Mr Johnson also set out the four “ingredients” for the success of the UK as livability, connectivity, culture, and power and responsibility.

He said this meant areas having great public services, enough affordable homes, safe streets, fast broadband, and more responsibility and accountability for local areas.

He added: “I want to set out what I think are the ingredients for the success of the UK, the places we call home whether it’s our cities or our towns, our coastal communities or rural areas.

“We are going to give greater powers to council leaders and communities.

“We are going to level up the powers offered to mayors so more people can benefit from the kind of local structures seen in London and here in Manchester.”

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