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Collaboration call

Johnson lays down union connectivity gauntlet

Boris Johnson wants to unite the transport network

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has challenged the devolved governments to work with him to strengthen transport links across the UK.

Mr Johnson sees better connectivity as a key to levelling up the country and boosting the economy.

But its obvious unionist overtone will rattle nationalists in Scotland who will see it as a disguised attempt to weaken their case for separation.

One recommendation the Prime Minister is keen to adopt in Sir Peter Hendy’s final report of the Union Connectivity Review, is a strategic transport network called UKNET.

Mr Johnson said: “If we want to truly level up the country then it’s vital that we improve connectivity between all corners of the UK, making it easier for more people to get to more places, more quickly.

“We will set up a strategic UK-wide transport network that can better serve the whole country with stronger sea, rail and road links – not only bringing us closer together, but boosting jobs, prosperity and opportunity.”

The independent Union Connectivity Review was launched in October 2020. It rejected the prime minister’s suggestion for a bridge or tunnel linking Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Specific recommendations include reducing rail journey times and increasing capacity on the West Coast Main Line, and conducting an assessment of the East Coast road and rail corridor.

Sir Peter said: “My recommendations provide comprehensive, achievable and clear plans forward to better connect the whole of the United Kingdom, leading to more growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion.

“I welcome the enthusiasm shown by the Prime Minister and the Government to my final report and I look forward to their formal response to my recommendations, which aim to spread opportunity and prosperity right across the United Kingdom.”

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