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Boris Johnson will make a speech on Thursday on his plans to “level up and unite the country”, something the prime minister has previously described as “the central purpose of his premiership”.

In the Conservatives’ 2019 general election-winning manifesto, the party said its focus would be “levelling up every part of the UK” and the term has since become a key slogan for Mr Johnson’s government.

The term was a key tenet of the Queen’s Speech, the prime minister now has a ‘levelling up adviser’ and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a £4.8bn ‘levelling up fund’.

People walk at High Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Windsor, Britain January 10, 2021.
The regeneration of the high street is expected to form a key part of the PM’s speech on Thursday

In the party’s manifesto, the PM said it would involve investing in towns, cities and rural and coastal areas, using apprenticeships to balance out skills, giving areas more control over investment and creating new freeports.

Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands – where the PM will be making his speech on Thursday – has said it should mean “a level playing field for the UK’s regions” in terms of opportunities.

And more recently, the term ‘levelling up’ was heavily referenced in the Hartlepool by-election in May – which saw a Tory MP elected for the first time in the current constituency’s history.

But what does the phrase really mean?

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Levelling up is ‘not just getting a shiny new high street’

Conservative MP Simon Fell, one of the many new party representatives elected in the 2019 snap general election, said placing more decision-making locally and investment in education is key to levelling up.

“I think we are seeing good progress on levelling up with towns deals, the Levelling Up Fund, high street bids, all that sort of stuff,” the MP for Barrow and Furness told Sky News.

“But what I am really interested in seeing is more local decision-making, pushing decisions back closer to people, and I am hoping that we will see with that some of what will deliver long-term levelling up.

“I look at my own patch, some of the real challenges we have are around education and health.

“So how we drive changes there, that we are not just getting a shiny new high street – I would happily take a shiny new high street – but actually giving young people the opportunities both in terms of the skills they can pick up and the education they receive, but also the health outcomes which are just lacking at the moment.”

Owner Isatu Funna from Dar Leone displays a "we're open" sign designed by artist Timothy Hunt, which has been created as part of the American Express Shop Small campaign and to help welcome people back to our high streets
Conservative MP Sir John Redwood says investment in small business and enterprise is key to levelling up

‘Harnessing public and private sectors to create sustained progress’

Conservative MP Sir John Redwood says levelling up to him is investment in “training, education, support for small business and enterprise”.

“To me, the aim is very clear: it is primarily about more people going on worthwhile personal journeys so that we end up with many more people who are in worthwhile and well-paid work where they find more enjoyment and reward from it in every sense,” the MP for Wokingham told Sky News.

Mr Redwood added that the key to effective levelling up is “harnessing public and private sectors” to create “sustained progress for a community”.

“You are not going to get a sustained recovery or a noticeable levelling up if you just put one or two large public sector projects into a place,” he said.

“It has got to be much more comprehensive than that and a lot of the action is going to be private sector led. “

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak during a visit to Teesport in Middlesbrough. Picture date: Thursday March 4, 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced eight new freeports in England in March.

‘Rebalancing the economy and bringing high-quality, well-paid jobs to the regions’

Conservative MP and former minister Simon Clarke says levelling up is about “creating jobs and opportunity and restoring pride in place”.

“My priority for the future is very clear – delivering more good jobs, growth and investment for the area I was brought up in,” the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland told Sky News.

Mr Clarke added: “Here on Teesside, our new freeport is already bringing the first high-quality, well-paid jobs to our region with huge investors such as GE Renewables choosing Teesside for their new manufacturing operations.

“The Towns Fund, the Future High Streets Fund and the Levelling Up Fund are all enabling our local authorities to deliver investment and kick-start shovel-ready projects to make the improvements that will unlock future investment in our towns and communities.

“The government is rebalancing the economy to give communities which have felt ignored and let down a greater share of investment and greater control over how these investments are made.”

The research is looking at the activation of white cells
Giles Wilkes, senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said Boris Johnson sees R&D (research and development) as key to his levelling up promise

‘What the state should be doing is what the levelling up debate is all about’

Giles Wilkes, senior fellow at the Institute for Government and former special adviser to Theresa May, says the levelling up debate for Mr Johnson’s government is about two things – investment and research and development (R&D) spending.

On the latter, he said: “This is the idea that if you try to situate your brainy industries outside of these regions that normally benefit from it, the south east and so on, then you will be able to generate new clusters that will become the Seattles and Bostons of the future.

“All I can say about this is that it is extremely difficult.

“The agglomeration benefits of being around where the existing clever people are is incredibly powerful and there is a long list, perhaps 100 long, on Wikipedia of places that decided to call themselves Silicon something-or-other and failed – because there is only one Silicon Valley.”

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COP28: Rishi Sunak to call for ‘pragmatic’ climate action at conference after green U-turns earlier this year




COP28: Rishi Sunak to call for 'pragmatic' climate action at conference after green U-turns earlier this year

Rishi Sunak will call for “pragmatic” climate action at COP28, as he seeks to reassure international partners following his climate U-turns earlier this year.

Mr Sunak changed a number of plans put in place by his predecessors over the summer – including the phasing out of the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This now has a 2035 deadline.

Some £4bn of green investment was announced by the chancellor in last week’s autumn statement.

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will also be at the UN climate conference in Dubai as he looks to build international bridges ahead of the general election expected next year.

And he has used his trip to Dubai to say Mr Sunak‘s government is “sending the wrong signals” on the move to net zero.

Before his visit, Mr Sunak said “the UK has lead the way in taking pragmatic, long-term decisions at home – and at COP28 we will lead international efforts to protect the world’s forests, turbocharge renewable energy and leverage the full weight of private finance”.

More on Cop28

The prime minister will announce £1.6bn of UK financing for climate projects while in Dubai.

This includes £500m for forests and sustainable land, £316m for green energy projects around the world and other schemes which will be announced later on.

Some £40m will be contributed to a new global scheme aiming to address loss and damage – Germany and hosts UAE will give around £79m, while the US and Japan will give less than the UK.

As well as his climate U-turns, the prime minister has also been criticised for his government’s continuing issuing of oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

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‘We are a world leader on climate’

Read more:
What is COP28, who is going, and what’s at stake?
Sunak and Sir Keir head to COP28 in Dubai

Mr Sunak said: “The world made ambitious pledges at previous COP summits to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But the time for pledges is now over – this is the era for action.

“We know that the technologies and innovations we need to protect the planet are at our fingertips, from the mighty offshore wind farms powering the UK to the solar energy transforming electricity in Africa.

“The transition to net zero should make us all safer and better off. It must benefit, not burden ordinary families.”

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Starmer asked if he can be trusted

Mr Sunak will also use the summit to speak with world leaders about the conflict in the Middle East.

Sir Keir, meanwhile, will use the summit to further his plans to encourage green investment and business in the UK should he become prime minister.

But Labour recently had to deny he was watering down his promise to invest £28bn a year in green initiatives.

This is said to be a target – and will be subject to “fiscal rules” imposed by a Labour chancellor if they are in power.

Speaking ahead of his trip, Sir Keir said he wanted to “set the agenda” on green finance – and this will be done by “partnering with business”.

Labour says it would force FTSE 100 companies to publish their carbon footprint and adhere to “credible” plans to limit climate change to an increase of 1.5C.

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Coinbase tracks 6% rise in info requests from law, government agencies




Coinbase tracks 6% rise in info requests from law, government agencies

Crypto exchange Coinbase says it had recorded a 6% rise in requests from law enforcement and government agencies compared to 2022, with the number of jurisdictions issuing requests jumping by 19, according to the exchange’s annual Transparency Report.

Four countries — the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain — made up nearly three-quarters (73%) of the 13,079 agency requests to Coinbase for information between Q4 202

The United States made 5,686 requests to Coinbase, up from 5,304 last year, with 90.4% of those from criminal enforcement agencies. That number dwarfed Germany’s 1,906 requests, which ranked second. Germany traded places with the U.K. compared to last year, with the country seeing a small decline in requests over the year, down to 1,401 requests. This still far exceeded fourth-place Spain’s 732.

Meanwhile, Australia sent 262% more requests to Coinbase compared to the previous year, placing it sixth place at 453. Ukraine’s requests more than tripled, and Portugal’s more than doubled, but those countries still did not register in the top 15.

Countries that sent Coinbase more information requests compared to the previous year. Source: Coinbase

The report covered the final quarter of 2022 and the first three of 2023. The requests Coinbase counted included subpoenas, court orders, search warrants and other formal legal processes. Coinbase provided “customer information, such as name, recent login/logout IP address, and payment information” in response to requests, but may push back at times:

“Our obligation is to respond to these requests if they are valid under financial regulations and other applicable laws. […] Under certain circumstances, we may ask the government or law enforcement agency to narrow their request.”

Coinbase said in a blog post in September that 83% of “G20 members and major financial hubs” have crypto regulations in force or passed legislation on crypto. These regulations include the European Union’s Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, passed in April, and other initiatives.

Meanwhile, enforcement agencies worldwide have begun to turn up the heat on crypto-related crime, with many beefing up their police units to trace potentially illicit crypto transactions. 

Related: Coinbase warns customers about subpoena in apparent CFTC Bybit probe

Coinbase itself was the object of enforcement action in June of this year in the form of a suit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging the sale of unregistered securities. It contested the SEC’s authority in the case in a court filing in October.

Coinbase is active in over 100 countries. In September, announced plans to focus on expansion in the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Australia. Those jurisdictions are “enacting clear rules,” the exchange said.

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