Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi has told Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss that Darlington is a model of how Levelling up can work and that they should commit to rolling it out across the country.

Speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo at Feethams - the office block which will be home to hundreds of Government staff across several departments until they move into the Brunswick site across the town - Mr Zahawi told us Levelling Up was "100 per cent" deeply rooted in Government.

He said: "It is all about delivery, delivery delivery and over the next 24 months, you will see a Conservative Prime Minister, focus laser-like on that delivery and on the agenda of Levelling Up and of course on the agenda here in Darlington.

The Northern Echo: Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi meets colleaguesChancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi meets colleagues


"I'm convinced this is a model that will work around the country. Whoever is in Number 10 Downing Street, whether it's Rishi Sunak, or Liz Truss, they are equally committed to Levelling Up.

Read more: Brunswick revealed as permanent base for Darlington Treasury

"I think the beauty of this is it gives you the real blueprint of how you deliver investment and how you then connect that to the skills agenda and as you begin to deliver it, you begin to have more confidence in it.

"The value for money case is something we have to think about all the time, because we are the stewards of people's money but here it is very clear and therefore gives you that confidence to continue to scale up.

Naming MPs Paul Howell and Peter Gibson and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen as key people who are making Level Up work here, Mr Zahawi said: "One of the things that I have certainly experienced throughout my career, in business, and now in politics, is that delivery is everything.

The Northern Echo: Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi at Feethams in DarlingtonChancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi at Feethams in Darlington

"If you can demonstrate to people that you are serious about delivering, and they see it physically happening, then you get incredible support and goodwill, and magic begins to happen.

Read more: Sixty-one per cent of Northern Echo readers back Rishi Sunak to be next Tory leader

"If you look at this campus here, and the growth trajectory we are on, we're going to reach 300 people here, we're about a third of the way here in terms of our recruitment  and 80% are recruited locally. We want to hit over 1,000 here plus the 700 colleagues from Department of Education.

"Then you begin to get to critical mass, which is why the Brunswick Street site is so important to us, because people will join you and know that they're going to have a long-term career in the civil service, and that you're not going to have a small satellite office that some minister can come along and just close down.

"They begin to believe that this is a good career move for them and I think that is essential.

"But the other thing that is happening here is a new model of government. If you look around the building here what the floor is here, you've got BEIS sitting next to the Treasury, sitting next to  the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, sitting next to the Office for National Statistics. You will end up having seven departments all collaborating together. That's how you create the new model of innovation in the civil service."

A Government spokesperson told us later: “We will work with the Government Property Agency to see how we can provide local people and local businesses with employment opportunities in the construction and ongoing support of the permanent home of the economic campus.”