Published:

Richard Holden is MP for North West Durham.

Nissan UK Plant, Sunderland

It’s coming home! Sadly, I experienced England’s second goal on Saturday night vicariously via the cheers from my living room. I was in the kitchen, dishing up a roast chicken with trimmings for A small group of England fans.

What was to be half-time dinner had been delayed. My temporary absence from the screen was due to timing, specifically, my poor timing. The chicken had been removed, and was snugly wrapped and resting in tinfoil. However, getting different vegetables to roast to sufficiently similar levels was proving to be irritatingly difficult.

At Rome, though, England’s timing was, unlike mine, proving to be pretty pitch-perfect. Having returned to catch the replay of Harry Maguire’s goal, I had then nipped back to dish-up dinner. As I was carving the chicken, Kane headed in his second and guaranteed our place in the semi-finals and, for a second time in six minutes, I experienced England scoring second hand.

Fortunately, a couple of days before, my timing had been better. At seven in the morning and already having been on the road from London to Sunderland for an hour, I received the long-awaited call from Kevin Fitzpatrick, the boss of the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

He confirmed that what was in the papers was true ,and that Nissan was making a billion-pound investment in the North East. The truest sign of what is being referred to as ‘levelling up’ is seeing good jobs secured and more on their way; and this investment is the clearest example of that yet, especially after the fears for the future of the plant at the time of the EU Referendum.

The real timing of this deal is due to two factors. Firstly, the Chancellor’s big push on the super-deductor means that big investments in productivity and production right now are really good value. Secondly, the Government’s EU Brexit Deal has an eight year “rules of origin” clause which means that, within that time, the vast majority of anything exported between the EU and United Kingdom must have 70 per cent of its components made within the UK or European Union. As batteries become a key part of the cost of any new car, they’re going need to be produced in the UK or EU.

Nissan chose the UK. As a result, there will be thousands of direct and indirect jobs in high-end, next generation manufacturing – as well as (fingers crossed) football – coming home. This is a picture being repeated by announcements at Filton with Airbus, Rolls-Royce in Derby and at UKBIC manufacturing in Coventry, too, during the last few days. The workshop of the world has a golden opportunity to power forth again.

As I told East Surrey Conservatives on Friday night – following the invitation of my good friend (and superstar local MP) Claire Coutinho – Levelling Up isn’t about taking from one area to give to elsewhere. That is permanent subsidy. The cash transfer which has been Labour’s answer that has, sadly, hitherto gone unchallenged for too long.

Levelling up is about ensuring that good, well paid jobs are spread across the country. That with government investing in infrastructure, and working with private enterprise on skills and jobs, we can help get those parts of the country (which exist in pockets in the South of England, as well as in larger areas of the North) that are currently reliant on being drip-fed taxpayers money to break out of the relative economic stagnation they have experienced for the last few decades.

Timing, in football, politics, and in cooking, is everything. Coronavirus has held us back over the last eighteen months. If we are to show progress on the levelling up agenda ahead of the next general election, then now is not the moment to sit back and say manana.

We are a One Nation Conservative Party with an agenda that can deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom. We have one shot at really showing those first-time voters who put their trust in us that we’re different to both our (at least perceived) previous incarnations and to the Labour Party who lost their trust over generations by their failure to deliver.

Levelling up will benefit the people of Lingfield in Surrey, Littlewick Green in Berkshire and those in Leadgate in County Durham. Now the Coronavirus restrictions are lifting, it is time to focus on delivering what people voted for us to do, and double down on levelling up.