Boris Johnson British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister's Questions in London, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Boris Johnson British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister's Questions in London, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) – The British government on Wednesday laid out plans for a massive transfer of power and wealth to the country's backward regions, a long-term commitment to voters who helped bring British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to office.

约翰逊的保守党政府于2019年当选,承诺通过改善交通连接、基础设施和经济机会,使这个欧洲地区最不平等的国家之一因工业关闭和公共资金削减而受到打击的地区 "平地起风云"。

The government fleshed out that commitment Wednesday, detailing details of plans to invest in public transport, education, digital connectivity and research and development in more deprived areas, mainly in central and northern England, by 2030. It also said that more areas will get elected mayors with significant powers and that derelict industrial sites will be targeted for major regeneration projects.

So far, however, details on how the ambitious program will be funded are scarce.

Britain has long had a deep regional divide, with money and wealth centered in London and the south of England, while heavy industry dominated the north. The closure of mines and factories has hit these regions hard in recent decades as Britain has shifted from an industrial powerhouse to a service-based economy. The divide became even greater after the 2008 global financial crisis when the Conservative-led government cut public spending to curb ballooning deficits. Poorer regions, most dependent on state funding, were hit hardest.

England's former industrial cities, such as Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, and Scotland's Glasgow, have done much to reinvent themselves as economic, cultural and creative hotbeds, but smaller towns and cities remain scarred by poverty, poor education and high unemployment.

Michael Gove, the minister responsible for the upgrade program, said the U.K.'s 2016 EU referendum was a "wake-up call" to voters in neglected areas.

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"In addition to the clear commandment to leave the EU, it's a way of saying to people in (parliamentary zip code) SW1, people like me, 'Look, it's vital to change the economic model of this country,'" he said.

Tracy Brabin, mayor of the West Yorkshire region in northern England, welcomed the government's plan but said "the devil will be in the details.

"Ambitious and hopeful, but unless you really have the money and the resources, you're going to be in trouble," she told the BBC.

Johnson hopes the announcement of the long-awaited plan will provide some respite from the scandal of the lockdown party held in his office during the pandemic. Police are investigating more than a dozen possible violations of coronavirus restrictions on the rise, and a report by a senior civil servant this week slammed the Prime Minister's office for "lapses in leadership and judgement".

Johnson has apologized and promised to overhaul his office and regain public trust. But his opponents – including some in his own Conservative Party – are calling for his resignation after he allowed employees to party while millions endured quarantine to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The party has a history of ousting leaders when they become debtors, and Johnson could still face a no-confidence vote from his own side. Under party rules, such a vote would be triggered if 15 percent of party lawmakers, currently 54, write in asking for a vote.

About a dozen Conservative MPs have publicly called for Johnson to step down, but many more may have submitted letters. High-profile Conservative MP Tobias Elwood said Wednesday that he would send a letter of no confidence to the party committee responsible for the leadership challenge.

"It's terrible for all MPs to keep defending this to the British public," he told Sky News.

"It is time to settle this issue once and for all so that the party can return to power. …… I will submit my letter to the 1922 Committee today."

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