Dear Prime Minister, don’t forget the Midlands – Midlands Connect
A message from Midlands Connect…
Prime Minister, congratulations on your appointment. As you embark on the first 100 days of your premiership, you will face huge challenges, but also an unparalleled opportunity. Our message to you is simple; unleash our economic potential, succeed where your predecessors have faltered, back the Midlands.
For too long the Midlands has been the forgotten ‘middle child’ stuck between its two siblings; high-achieving London, and the outspoken North. Although we’re used to modestly ‘getting on with things’, avoiding conflict and displaying our enduring resourcefulness, we need to face the truth. This ‘nicey nicey’ approach isn’t working. The Midlands is an essential economic engine, an important bellwether for the rest of the nation, and when we succeed, the UK succeeds. It’s time to redefine our relationship with central government and finally secure the investment we deserve.
Throughout the leadership contest, we heard countless pledges outlining how Whitehall will supercharge London’s economy, how the North will see billions of pounds pumped into Northern Powerhouse Rail – a pledge you’ve since made as PM. Listen closely however, and you’ll notice a gap in the rhetoric, a Midlands-shaped gap. We are home to over ten million people, the UK’s manufacturing heartland, the centre of its transport network, and it’s time our voices were heard.
We’ve finally united as a region, we’re working together to grow our influence, and it’s working. Our professional services sector is booming, our automotive, rail and aerospace companies are thriving. If the Midlands was a country, it would be the 12th biggest exporter in Europe. We’re not asking for special treatment from ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, the Treasury and Department for Transport, we’re simply asking that we are afforded the same opportunity as our siblings. We need to be able to reach each other, to connect with employers, skilled labour, clients and collaborators.
That means boosting our region’s woefully poor east-west connectivity, bringing economic centres such as Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Derby closer together, by delivering the region’s £2 billion flagship rail programme, the Midlands Rail Hub. It also means building HS2 in its entirety, all the way to Toton into the East Midlands, Manchester and Leeds.
The link between connectivity, prosperity and social mobility is plain to see, and if we’re to secure a better future for our communities, our attitude needs to change. As of today, the Midlands will no longer be bound by ‘Middle Child Syndrome’, we will not rely on our good manners to foster good will. We need the ear of Westminster to fulfil our economic potential, so to our new PM, if you’re listening, our message is this; back the Midlands.