Mayor of Manchester Andy Burham and his Liverpool counterpart, Steve Rotherham, have teamed up wth Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake in an attempt to ensure the areas of the country are not neglected after the UK leaves the European Union. The trio, who’s communities cover 15 million people in England – more than a quarter of the country’s total population – will kickstart plans today when they meet at the Transport for the North inaugural conference in Sheffield. They will launch the Strategic Transport Plan agreed last week, which sets out a £70bn investment programme over the next 30 years which the leaders claim could “unlock £100bn in economic growth and create one million jobs”.

It outlines a strategy to increase spending on strategic transport by around £50 per person in northern England each year to 2050.

Further plans include upgrading and building major new roads, improvements to the existing rail network, and the continued roll-out of smart ticketing.

Former shadow home secretary Mr Burnham attacked Westminster for so far overlooking northern communities during the Brexit process.

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He said: “The first step should be to adopt these modest proposals as a show of goodwill by Westminster leaders that northern communities will not continue to be overlooked during the Brexit process, as has sadly been the case so far.”

Mr Rotherham, who was previously Lord Mayor of Liverpool, accused Westminster leaders of concentrating too much on the impacts Brexit could have on London.

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He said: “For too long power and opportunity have been concentrated in the south at the expense of the north and there is a real danger that this is further enhanced by Brexit.

“Westminster elites and Whitehall mandarins need to stop looking at Brexit from a London-centric standpoint. Otherwise they will further splinter our country.

“Adopting these investment proposals in full would be a good first step, but they should be just the start of a wider offer that also involves further devolution of real power for our communities across the north ensuring no one feels they have been ignored or held back.”

Ms Blake claimed the north has been shut out of major Brexit decisions, adding: “It simply cannot be allowed to go on any longer.

“One small way for politicians at Westminster to show that it won’t be business as usual, would be for them to take these plans forward in full.”

This comes after Mr Burnham warned hundreds of nurses in the north of England could quit the UK after Brexit because domestic rules could render accumulated work experience pointless.

Spanish nurses and health visitors, who made up 17 percent of the of the NHS’s EU nurse workforce in June 2018 – more than any other country in the EU except Ireland – accumulate points from work experience in other countries to use in achieving better jobs and salaries at home.

Last June, there were a total of 280,000 nurses employed in the UK, with 40,000 jobs vacant.

Diego Ayuso, general secretary of Spain’s nursing regulator Consejo General de Enfermería, indicated a new post-Brexit agreement was urgently needed, and said: “Currently, because the UK forms part of the EU, time spent working in a London public hospital counts exactly like time working in a Madrid public hospital.

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“When Brexit happens, and the UK leaves, working there won’t count, unless there is a new agreement.”

The Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group has warned Spanish theatre nurses at Royal Bolton Hospital “indicated that they are looking to return to Spain this year”.

Mr Burnham also warned: “I believe other trusts are worried. It just shows how immediate the impact of Brexit might be.

“We remain implacably opposed to a ‘no deal’ Brexit. It is not a place Greater Manchester wants to go.”



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