Theresa May told to spend £12BILLION on the North if she's serious about making a difference after 'Brexit bribe' faces backlash

THERESA MAY was today told to find £12 BILLION to revive the North as her post-Brexit ‘Towns Fund’ sparked a bitter backlash.

Northern Powerhouse partnership vice-chair Jim O’Neill said the PM’s £1.6 billion plan was an “embarrassment” and a “pittance” given the lack of investment in the North of England over the past decade.

And he said the Government should spend “twenty times” the £600 million earmarked for the North under the Brexit plan if it really wanted to make a difference.

The former Treasury commercial Chief Secretary stormed: “Given the weaker productivity, lower skills, poor education outcomes, this is a bit of an insult.

“The most pessimisitic forecasts for a Hard Brexit talk of a 10.5 per cent hit to GDP but there’s been a 16.5 per cent decline in productivity over the past decade, with the North hurting the most.”

Theresa May insisted in today’s Sun that the ‘Stronger Towns’ fund was a first step to spreading opportunity across the country and rebuilding ‘forgotten’ communities.

But furious opposition parties dismissed it as a blatant attempt to “bribe” Labour MPs into backing her Brexit deal in the Commons.

Labour MPs separately warned the fund was so disappointing it may COST the PM votes – given they had hoped for more.

Meanwhile, Tories slammed the “loose change” being earmarked for deprived areas in the South.

The £1.6 billion will be spread over seven years until 2026 – and is exclusively earmarked for England.

The Sun Says: Bung bellyache

NOTHING’S ever enough for ­Labour, is it?

Theresa May dishes out £1.6billion to “forgotten” towns and MPs merely gripe that it’s “pathetic” and “embarrassing”.

In loony-Left land you can just print more money. Or borrow half a trillion pounds. In the real world £1.6billion may not be a king’s ransom, divvied up among dozens of Brexit-backing ­communities, but it’s not nothing either.

As Mrs May says, it’s just a first step to boosting areas left behind by successive Labour and Tory Governments — a Sun demand the day after the Leave vote. More radical action must come. Deprived areas outside the North must benefit too.

As sensible Labour MP Caroline Flint says: “It isn’t enough — but it is a step forward.” Exactly.

Of the £1billion an initial £600million for the North-West, North-East, Yorkshire and the Humber equates to £39 per person.

The South-West will receive £36million – just £3million more than last week’s Brexit settlement with Eurotunnel.
It follows negotiations with Labour MPs minded to back the PM’s Brexit deal. But Labour’s Wigan MP Lisa Nandy stormed yesterday: “I think it’s been so badly handled it’s possible that Theresa May has lost even more trust
than she had before.”

Another senior Labour MP privately told The Sun: “The Government is all over the place. They’re going to end up losing this vote when they have the numbers."

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Labour ‘Leaver’ Caroline Flint came to the PM’s defence – by insisting the fund was a “step forward”. “I have long argued that the voices and concerns of our smaller towns need to be heard.

“Too many funding pots are hoovered up by cities or massive infrastructure projects.”

But Gareth Snell of Stoke on Trent warned: “The entire allocation for the West Midlands over four years is less than the total value of cuts faced by Stoke on Trent City Council alone over the same period.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire insisted the plans would be “transformative” for certain parts of the country. But Tories privately dubbed him the ‘Secretary of State for Bribery’.

One ex-Minister said: “This shows where they miss George Osborne. He did this sort of thing every year, giving an MP a roundabout here, dual carriageway there, and it was run like a military operation.”

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