CARLISLE MP John Stevenson called for Northern Powerhouse 2.0 in his keynote speech at the Northern Research Group (NRG) conference in Doncaster.

In a wide-ranging address, Mr Stevenson, speaking as chairman of the NRG, also called for the creation of the ‘Charles’ railway line in order to improve rail connectivity across the Pennines from Liverpool to Leeds.

The Northern Research Group is made up of Conservative MPs from across the north of England elected in former Labour stronghold areas.

Tories from across the north came to Doncaster for the one-day conference on Friday, June 9 to discuss policy ahead of the NRG’s northern manifesto launch and to try to influence the national party ahead next year’s general election.

In his address, Mr Stevenson called on the Conservative Party to ‘look to the future’ with major infrastructure projects to revitalise the northern economy and for it to be 'imaginative, exciting, practical, and conservative' in its policy making.

“Back in 2014, the Northern Powerhouse project filled what had been a vacuum in policy – it should have been around for many, many years,” said Mr Stevenson.

“Previous administrations of all political colours had for decades neglected the north with little done to improve and revitalize it.

“We have had the towns deal, the high street fund, the levelling up fund, devolution deals, growth deals, free ports, and other initiatives which are all very worthwhile in their own right.

"But we need once again to move on. We now need to look to the future.”

The supposed benefit of metro mayors was also discussed at the conference, with John Stevenson telling The Cumberland News that Cumbria had been ‘failed’ by the lack of a regional mayor.

At the conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the government is ‘completely committed’ to Mr Stevenson’s vision that a ‘stronger north’ means a ‘stronger Britian’.

Rishi Sunak echoed the words of John Stevenson in the hall of delegates from across the north that “there is no route to electoral success without you,” before declaring himself as a ‘Prime Minister for the North’.

“We need to grow the economy and I want the north to be at the heart of our economic growth,” said Sunak.