Andy Street has told this year’s Conservative Party conference of the continuing success of the West Midlands.
Delegates in Manchester heard the Mayor say how the regional economy was the fastest growing in the UK and how Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country were becoming “the engines” of its success.
Mr Street also raised a laugh from delegates when he told them how prior to his election as Mayor in the summer Prime Minister Theresa May had asked three things of him - to put himself forward and win, to run a campaign made in the West Midlands, and to get her a decent John Lewis bed for Downing Street.
Andy Street addresses delegates at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“We delivered on all three!” he said.
Thanking everyone who had worked to help get him elected in May this year, Mr Street said: “Ours was a campaign for an idea which I've called Urban Conservatism. My manifesto was one of hope, aspiration and opportunity.
“It was moderate, tolerant and inclusive. It appealed right across the region, across all communities and across the age groups. It talked of jobs, homes, transport, and of sharing our collective success.”
Mr Street said the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy was very welcome, “particularly in the West Midlands because once again Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country are becoming the engines of the UK’s success.”
“And that's because we just get on with the job, and maybe we don't shout about it, as much as, dare I say it, Manchester,” he added.
“But it’s not about Manchester, it’s about competing on a world stage, with Barcelona, Berlin and Boston.
“The West Midlands economy is growing faster than anywhere else in the UK. We’re top for inward investment, exports, start-ups outside London and growth in pay. We even have a trade surplus with China.
“After decades of waiting, now is our time. And how is this being achieved? Through great teamwork, and our own Industrial Strategy.
“For us, it means:
“So we have a clear plan and a West Midlands team united behind it, with our brilliant universities leading the way. They’ve been genuine partners in our story, producing breakthrough innovation and talent.
“But the job is far from done. Not everyone is sharing in this success and businesses simply can’t find the skills to grow.
“Addressing this challenge is my priority, and I hope it will be Government’s too, so that we can unleash the full potential of the Industrial Strategy.”
Mr Street said the job of the Mayor was to champion the region: “You’ve always heard from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but the silent voice was that of our great city-regions.
“On May 4 that changed forever, when four Conservative Mayors were elected. Now, the West Midlands voice is now heard loud and clear.
“We’re proud that the Commonwealth Games look set to come to Birmingham and we’re determined that Coventry wins the race to become the UK City of Culture 2021.
“The Mayor’s job is all about leadership, and reaching out beyond our party where that is what it takes to get the job done. It’s new politics. It's about delivery. It's a business-like approach to politics.
“I'm confident that this way we can make a success of devolution and we can show how that success can be shared in a way that works for everyone.
“In the youngest, most diverse region of our country, it's our chance to provide a blueprint that answers the challenges our party faces.
“As a Conservative Mayor, it is an honour to be leading the West Midlands, as now is truly our time.”