PM urges voters to back West Midlands mayor’s agenda in ‘very close’ race

Boris Johnson and Andy Street on bikes
Boris Johnson and Andy Street on bikes (PA Wire)
12:46pm, Wed 05 May 2021
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The Prime Minister has urged voters to back Andy Street’s in the “very close” West Midlands mayoral election as he joined the Conservative mayor for a canal bike ride.

Boris Johnson stopped to speak and take photos with a few members of the public as he said Mr Street would “boost skills and drive long term growth in jobs”.

But the former John Lewis boss faces competition from current Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill Liam Byrne, who previously said his party’s losses in the region in 2019 were “really significant”.

The West Midlands is the largest region in the UK outside of London and is subsequently seen as a key battleground in the upcoming local and mayoral elections.

Mr Johnson said he expected the vote to be “very close” but urged West Midlands voters to back Mr Street’s “fantastic agenda”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will also campaign in the region to press the case for Mr Byrne on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson on a bike (PA Wire)

The PM and Mr Street knocked on a few doors and handed leaflets out at a Kwik-Fit garage following a bike ride along a canal in Stourbridge on Wednesday.

Asked on his visit to Stourbridge what people had been saying about Mr Street, the PM said: “Well I found a lot of support obviously for Andy who I think has done an amazing job over the last few years.

“But it’s going to be very close and I think it’s a good opportunity for people to get out and vote tomorrow for Andy Street who has a fantastic agenda to take the West Midlands forward.

“I’ve been working with him for years now – he’s brilliant at getting funding for projects here in the West Midlands but he also has a vision for the whole area.

“The connection between transport and extending the metro to Dudley, getting £1 billion of investment in Dudley town centre, getting Goldman Sachs, a huge American bank, to put their tech hub in Birmingham now.

“That’s all part of what he wants to do to put in transport infrastructure investment, boost skills, and drive long term growth in jobs.”

Questioned on whether a vote for Mr Street was the only way to get a fair deal for the people of the West Midlands, Mr Johnson said: “Of course – I think Andy Street has done an absolutely outstanding job and I would say, as I’m a backer of Andy’s, that I think he would do a much better job than the other candidates.

“What he offers is a programme of growth and regeneration and knowing how to build new homes and create new opportunities on brownfield sites.

“If you look for instance at the HS2 interchange at Solihull, it’s fantastic.

“That’s an opportunity to create literally thousands of new homes, but not on greenfield sites, and it’s a way of driving jobs and growth here for the long term – that’s what Andy does.”

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