IT is extremely disappointing that the Government’s White Paper on levelling up has been delayed, apparently because of the need to concentrate on the Omicron variant.

But “levelling-up” – an expression of fairness to the regions which have been historically overlooked by London-orientated governments – was a key part of the Conservatives’ appeal to this part of the world at the election two years ago, long before Covid, letalone the Omicron variant, was an issue.

The Conservatives must have had some idea what their plans were to level up two years ago so it is difficult to understand why we are not yet even at the White Paper stage – a White Paper is a policy document but there is still a long way to go before the legislative process begins.

Indeed, after two years of using the phrase “levelling up”, the Government still hasn’t specifically defined what it is trying to achieve by levelling up. The White Paper was going to be our first glance at those specifics.

And, of course, we are hurtling towards a general election when the voters who lent Boris Johnson their support in December 2019 will want to see some return.

There is a strong feeling that the regions have been overlooked in the Government response to the storm – if swathes of London had been without power for nearly a fortnight there would have been hell on – and the delay to the White Paper on the Government response to regional disparities is really rubbing salt into the wounds caused by Arwen.