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Digby Jones backs ‘pro-business’ Tory Andy Street for West Midlands metro mayor

Digby Jones backs ‘pro-business’ Tory Andy Street for West Midlands metro mayor

🕔18.Sep 2016

Digby Jones has today given his firm backing to Conservative candidate Andy Street in the battle to become West Midlands metro mayor.

Lord Jones of Birmingham, a former director general of the CBI and briefly a business minister in Gordon Brown’s Labour government, said he was supporting Mr Street because “he is firmly on the side of business”.

He added that Mr Street, the managing director of John Lewis and until last week chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, had a wealth of experience  and would enable the West Midlands to engage with Whitehall and the rest of the world.

Lord Jones had toyed with the idea of running for mayor himself, as an independent candidate, but has decided to support Mr Street instead.

He continued an attack on Labour mayoral candidate Siôn Simon, after declaring earlier in the year that electing Mr Simon “would be the worst thing the West Midlands has ever done”.

Today Lord Jones said “the beginning and end of the argument” was that Mr Street could deliver for business and create wealth and jobs while Mr Simon could not. He said:

Siôn Simon is business-hostile. Can you imagine him talking the language of would-be inward investors around the world? He believes money to pay for socialism grows on trees. I for one will not help in any way a mayor wedded to the Corbyn franchise.

Lord Jones added:

Everyone knows I am passionate about the West Midlands. As a proud Brummie I want to see our region punch above its weight, engage with the rest of the world, and make the most of every opportunity.

Andy Street is the man to do this. He has the wealth of experience and is firmly on the side of business.

He said he was adamant that every voter should welcome a business-attuned mayor.

Business employs millions in the region. It makes profit which generates taxation which pays for our schools and hospitals. No successful business…no jobs; no successful business… hospitals, period.

Lord Jones promised to help the region “in an unpaid, part time ambassadorial role, spreading the word that the region is ready and open for business whether in Whitehall, Westminster, Dubai, Shanghai or Mumbai”. But the offer only stood if Mr Street became mayor.

The election for a West Midlands mayor will take place on May 4 2017. As well as Mr Street and Mr Simon, one other candidate has declared so far – Beverley Nielsen for the Liberal Democrats.

The mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and oversee an £8 billion devolution deal to improve transport, economic development, workplace skills and housing.

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