LONDON, Aug 19 — The frontrunner to be Britain’s next prime minister Liz Truss said her government’s defining mission would be to revive the economy as she set out a series of measures to help parts of northern England.

Britain’s economic performance has lagged behind those of the United States, Italy and France in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy is expected to enter a long downturn at the end of the year amid surging inflation and rising interest rates.

“The defining mission of my government will be to get our economy growing again, cutting taxes to put more money into the pockets of hardworking people,” Truss said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said reducing regional economic inequality was his main goal. But public spending in the north of England fell behind the national average in the first two years of his government, research by the Institute for Public Policy Research has shown.

Truss said she was committed to the current government’s goal of reducing economic inequalities but would do so in a “Conservative way”, interpreted as meaning a focus on tax cuts and deregulation.

Speaking ahead of election hustings in Manchester in northern England on Friday, Truss pledged to provide more devolution, to ensure poorer areas receive the government funding they need, and to build two new vocational colleges in the north of England that will be “the vocational equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge”, dubbed “Voxbridge”.

Truss has portrayed herself as a radical insurgent who would overturn the current failed orthodoxy and has proposed to reverse more than £30 billion (RM160 billion) of tax rises. — Reuters