England's Level Best

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2021021620210222 (R4)When Boris Johnson won the 2019 election, he did so pledging to tackle regional inequality and invest in parts of the country that felt left behind.

His desire to 'level up' the UK is not the first attempt by a government to tackle one of the most fundamental problems in the country’s economy. But his plans were quickly derailed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now he faces the enormous challenge of delivering tangible improvements to the lives of those who voted for him, while rebuilding the country after successive lockdowns.

Can it be done?

Political journalist Sebastian Payne takes a road trip to speak to business owners, residents and politicians from across the North and the Midlands - from Sedgefield and Liverpool to Stoke-on-Trent.

He mulls over the importance of the 'levelling up' agenda, hearing from key figures like Labour’s Lisa Nandy on the need to broaden the government's focus beyond the cities. He speaks to former chancellor George Osborne about why his Northern Powerhouse agenda was abandoned, and policy makers Rachel Wolf and Diane Coyle about why 'levelling up' is important.

And he asks transport secretary Grant Shapps whether his government’s ambitious plans can be realised.

Presenter: Sebastian Payne
Producer: Ellie Clifford
Executive Producer: Robert Nicholson

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Journalist Sebastian Payne asks if Boris Johnson's government can \u2018level up' the UK.