A LETTER signed by over 50 Conservative MPs in the North has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to 'set out a clear roadmap down the tiering system and out of lockdown'.

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Peter Gibson MP for Darlington and Paul Howell MP for Sedgefield all signed the letter which was written by Jake Berry MP for Rossendale and Darwen on behalf of the Northern Research Group (NRG).

The letter addresses the Government's approach to supporting communities in the North, where Covid-19 is most prevalent.

It says: "We are today calling for your support to create a pathway down the tiering system and to create a Northern Economic Recovery Plan."

Mr Howell said: "As a group of Northern MPs NRG is making sure we get a cohesive message to the top table - so that nobody gets distracted by other things.

"I would love us to have a clear exit plan, it's exactly what the letter is asking for. I don't know what that exit plan would be."

Mr Gibson said: "The letter is perfectly clear, I got involved in NRG, representing the Northern constituency. We need to make sure as Northern MPs that the levelling up agenda doesn't move down the list and stays centre stage.

"We need to make sure we deliver our promises and get a road map of where we are."

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, who did not sign the letter, said: "There are countless letters shared and sent between MPs, and I don’t necessarily see or sign every letter that is sent.

"I’m a member of the Northern Research Group and am in contact with government departments and cabinet members on a daily basis making the case for investment in our area."

Jacob Young, MP for Redcar, who also did not sign the letter, said: "It's no secret that I have pushed back against further restrictions being imposed on our region, and that I have reservations about how effective measures have been.

“However, it’s also clear to me the approach we are taking is the only option right now. To lockdown entirely would kill our economy, and to let the virus loose would lead to many more deaths.

“But even so - you only have to look back to the beginning of this month to see the signs of levelling up in our area.

“The Government has given Redcar Council £750,000 towards a major new leisure project at Majuba Beach.

"Redcar, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Thornaby have all been selected for the Towns fund - giving up to £25 million, from Government, for each town to transform their area.

"And the Government has invested more than £200 Million alongside the Tees Valley Mayor in creating Teesworks, the UK's largest single development site, on the former steelworks.

"I have every confidence in the Prime Minister and the Chancellor's ambitions for our area and I will continue to fight for our fair share of investment right across Redcar & Cleveland, and the wider Tees Valley.”

Simon Clarke MP who did sign the letter, and Dehenna Davison MP for Bishop Auckland who did not, were approached for comment.

Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said: “A sustained pipeline of Northern infrastructure projects will help us build back better as we emerge from the damaging effects of this pandemic which have hit the North hard.

“In addition to our 30-year plan of how to level-up opportunities through better transport in the North, we have set out a shorter-term five-year Economic Recovery Plan with projects that create up to 20,000 jobs and underpin greener growth for our region.

“As outlined in the letter from the Northern Research Group, the delivery in full of key projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, along with a strategic focus on the vital transport corridors that link our communities, will be critical. It’s promising to see the North’s Conservative MPs throwing further weight behind the policies and investment recommendations of the North’s civic and business leaders.”