Exclusive: Only three out of ten Yorkshire people have faith in Boris Johnson's transport promises for the North

Fewer than three out of ten people in Yorkshire have faith in Boris Johnson’s promise to deliver improved transport links in the North, new polling has revealed.

Saturday, 17th August 2019, 6:45 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited HMP Leeds in West Yorkshire this week. Pic: PA

Just 29 per cent of those surveyed in the region after the Prime Minister pledged in a major speech to deliver high speed rail between Leeds and Manchester believe it is likely the Government will deliver improved transport links across the North.

Polling carried out in the region by Survation for The Yorkshire Post and reputation and government affairs firm Bradshaw Advisory shows 39 per cent of people think it is “quite unlikely” or “very unlikely” the promised improvements will arrive.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited HMP Leeds in West Yorkshire this week. Pic: PA

And in a blow to Conservative hopes of making gains in the North in any upcoming General Election, only just over a quarter of people in Yorkshire said they trusted Mr Johnson to act in the best interests of the region.

The poll showed a dramatic fall in support for both Labour and the Conservatives in Yorkshire since the 2017 General Election in the face of a resurgent Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.

In his first major domestic policy speech in Manchester last month, Mr Johnson said he wanted to be the Prime Minister who did for the proposed £39bn Northern Powerhouse Rail project connecting the cities of the North “what we did for Crossrail in London”.

Promising to fund the Leeds-to-Manchester section of the route, he said: “As far as I’m concerned that’s just the beginning of our commitment and our investment. We want to see this whole thing run.” And promising to improve “services within cities, not just between cities”, he said he wanted to work with local leaders to introduce a London-style bus system run by a public body.

But the results of today’s polling shows many in Yorkshire, including those who class themselves as Conservatives, remain sceptical about whether the promises will be achieved.

Of the 1,010 people in Yorkshire polled online in a representative sample, only five per cent said it was “very likely” the Government would deliver improved transport links across the North and 24 per cent “quite likely”.

Some 26 per cent said it was neither likely nor unlikely, 24 per cent quite unlikely and 15 per cent very unlikely.

Conservative voters were most likely to believe Mr Johnson’s promise, with 51 per cent saying they were “very likely or “quite likely” to come to pass and 16 per cent unlikely. But only 25 per cent of Labour voters thought the Government was likely to deliver on the promise, with 55 per cent believing this was unlikely.

People in North Yorkshire were most likely to think the Prime Minister would deliver the promised improvements, while Labour-dominated South Yorkshire was least convinced.

A source close to Mr Johnson said: “On the steps of Downing Street Boris promised more money for the NHS and already he has delivered £1.8 billion for frontline services and upgrades to 20 hospitals, including in Leeds and across South Yorkshire. He promised to put an extra 20,000 police on the streets and these police officers are already being recruited.

“He has been clear that he will deliver transport investments across the North and work is already underway on plans to deliver a new high-speed rail link from Leeds to Manchester. His record already shows promises delivered and everyone should be confident that as Prime Minister Boris Johnson will deliver for people in Yorkshire.”

Two Yorkshire Labour MPs said the figures showed how sceptical the public was about Conservative promises on transport improvements.

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said: “In 2011 the Tories promised trans-Pennine electrification and a London tube expansion. In 2019 the tube expansion work is well underway and we’ve got nothing but broken promises.”

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton said: “The fact is that consecutive Conservative governments - and their austerity agenda - have left people in Leeds and across the whole of Yorkshire paying more money for less reliable services. We can no longer put up with this.”

Liberal Democrat Laura Gordon, who is standing to be MP in Sheffield Hallam, said: "For too long Labour and the Conservatives have promised much but delivered little for the people of Yorkshire in infrastructure.

"No wonder the residents of South Yorkshire are least convinced on these promises, for too long Sheffield has had much promised and little has been delivered."

Jake Pugh, the recently-elected Yorkshire MEP for the Brexit Party, said: "It is no surprise that the people of Yorkshire trust neither a desperate Conservative administration nor a London-centric branch of the Islington Marxists.

"For 40 years now, successive governments of left and right have abandoned towns. There has been no basic strategic forward planning and the failure to deliver Brexit has further stalled progress.