UK Politics

Election 2015: Osborne welcomes top US Republican Boehner

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Image copyright AP
Image caption John Boehner is leading the 16-strong US trade delegation

George Osborne is using a visit by top US politicians days before the start of the election to highlight progress on regional economic growth.

The chancellor is hosting Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, the top Republican in the US, on a trip to the north-west of England.

He said he wanted to utilise the UK's "unrivalled" trade links with the US to help develop a "northern powerhouse".

It came as Ed Miliband launched Labour's official election campaign.

Addressing party activists, the Labour leader said the Conservative-led government's record was one of falling living standards and growing economic insecurity for millions.

The general election campaign will formally begin on Monday when Parliament is dissolved ahead of the 7 May poll.

Mr Osborne has championed investment in the north-west of England, including new powers and budgets for Greater Manchester, as a demonstration of his commitment to see a broader-based economy less dependent on London and the south of England.

'National economy'

The government has pledged to spend £13bn on upgrading rail and road links across the north of England, to back science and technology centres across the region, to create a "metro" mayor for the Greater Manchester area and to devolve powers over skills and transport to Sheffield and across Yorkshire.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Osborne says the economy is more balanced than in 2010

Mr Boehner, who was re-elected House Speaker in January, and his delegation are visiting US businesses with operations in the region following a working lunch in Mr Osborne's Cheshire constituency.

Mr Osborne said the north-west already accounted for £3bn of the UK's annual £90bn exports to the US and he wanted this figure to grow, as well as an increase in US inward investment to the region, currently expected to total £750m over the next three years.

"The UK and US have an unrivalled historic economic partnership and I want to bring that to bear here in the North," he said.

Investments in transport, technology and culture, he added, would "establish a truly national economy, fit to continue that partnership into the future".

Mr Boehner said: "Our economic partnership with the UK is vital to America's interests, and whether it's trade, manufacturing, or energy, there is no shortage of opportunities for us to continue strengthening these ties."

The Treasury said the visit was trade-related and referred questions about the delegation's other engagements to the US Embassy, which arranged the visit.

Labour has pledged to devolve £30bn of funding to English cities and regions over the next five years.

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