Angela Rayner and Michael Gove to headline Convention of the North 2024

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove MP, and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner MP, will deliver keynote speeches at this year’s Convention of the North, it can be revealed.

The Convention, which will be held in Leeds across two days on 29 February and 1 March, is the North of England’s flagship annual gathering for business, political and civic society leaders. The conferences are spearheaded by Northern partnership network NP11, which brings together local government and private sector leaders.

The high-profile event will provide a platform for public and private sector voices to debate the challenges and opportunities facing the region, across a series of key areas including transport, energy, trade and investment, and health and culture.

Jointly hosted by West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and Chair of NP11 Clare Hayward, this year’s Convention will build on previous events in Rotherham, Gateshead, Liverpool and Manchester. Over 800 representatives are expected to attend, including metro mayors, council leaders and business leaders.

A delegation of 50 young people, organised by grassroots organisation Citizens UK, will be invited to take part in policy workshops and a session with non-profit mentorship network Power Collective CIC.

Following action-focused workshops on the first day, Bolton-born chief BBC news presenter and correspondent Clive Myrie will lead a series of panel discussions and speeches, culminating in a “Manifesto for the North” to guide future work for the region and the next government.

A new focus for this year’s Convention will be the recent historic advances in the field of artificial intelligence, and the enormous potential of these to reshape the economy and society of the North of England. Leading a keynote session on how the North can play a leading role in this “fourth industrial revolution” will be AI experts from the University of Bradford, Microsoft UK and Starship Technologies.

There will also be a high-profile metro mayors and political leaders panel focused on the future of devolution in England, and its potential to give a louder voice to the North to champion its collective offer and make a greater contribution to the national prosperity of the UK.

New research from NP11 and Transport for the North reveals that with the right powers and investment, the North of England’s economy could grow by £118 billion by 2050, transforming the lives and living standards of people across the region and the rest of the country.

In what looks set to be a pivotal election year, Conservative Secretary of State Michael Gove MP and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner MP will be invited to listen to the ambitions of Northern communities and businesses, and set out their parties’ visions for the region over the coming years.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“As our unified Northern voice continues to grow in strength, so too do the challenges and opportunities facing our economies, communities and businesses.

“From transitioning to renewable energy, to building a 21st century transport system, to leveraging our creativity to attract investment, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the North.

“In a pivotal election year, it is vital that all political parties listen to the ambitions of Northern leaders, and I am delighted that both Michael Gove and Angela Rayner will be joining us.”

Clare Hayward MBE, Chair of NP11, said:

“The Convention of the North is giving lawmakers, stakeholders and business voices the chance to come together and determine a manifesto of the North, for the North, by the North.

“It will be fantastic to have representatives from both Government and the Opposition to engage with us and to better understand the opportunities the region can bring to the table. 

“Our intention is to create a sustainable, healthy, inclusive and connected economy which will empower the North, allowing the region’s businesses to spearhead the growth of the UK economy.

“It will be encouraging to hear Michael Gove and Angela Rayner’s pitch to the North and how we can build on those relationships.”