SHADOW chancellor John McDonnell has said a Labour Government would shift the ‘centre of political gravity’ from Westminster to the North.

Opening his General Election campaign speech in Liverpool, he vowed to create a spending pot of £150 billion to invest in schools, hospitals, care homes and social housing.

He said a new Social Transformation Fund would be spent over the first five years of a Labour government to begin the “urgent task of repairing our social fabric that the Tories have torn apart”.

Mr McDonnell said: “It’s to deal with the human emergency which has been created by the Tories over the last nine years, alongside the climate emergency.”

Mr McDonnell said, under Labour’s plans, there would be a National Transformation Fund unit of the Treasury.

He said: “I can confirm that this powerful section of the Treasury Unit will be based here in the North.

“At the same time my Treasury ministerial meetings will no longer be solely in London.

“Labour’s Treasury ministers will meet outside of London and will have a ministerial office in the North. The centre of gravity, of political gravity, is shifting away from London. It’s coming back home to the North.”

Manifesto for the North set out to redress economic inequalities

The speech came a day after northern business and community leaders published the Manifesto for the North, outlining ambitions for clean growth, devolution, transport, education, investment and trade.

It followed a campaign earlier in the year launched by newspapers, including The Northern Echo, called Power up the North, to address the north-south divide in terms of economic prosperity.

Mr McDonnell said: “It means change, real change, and it means investment on a scale never seen before in this country and certainly never seen before in the North and outside of London and the South East.

“To achieve that objective it also requires therefore an irreversible shift in the centre of gravity in political decision making as well as investment in this country from its location solely in London to be relocated to the North and regions and nations of our country.”

Henri Murison, director of Northern Powerhouse Partnership, formed by former Conservative chancellor George Osborne in 2014, said the establishment of the National Transformation Fund unit in the North is ‘highly welcome’.

He said: “This will provide the essential capability and capacity outside the current Whitehall bubble to make devolution effective everywhere

“Based on our analysis the Northern Powerhouse regions together should in order to be effective receive at least £100 billion over ten years from the national and local transformation funds.”