Prime Minister 'plans overhaul of Whitehall departments'

Reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning "an overhaul of Whitehall that would merge departments" and considering spending billions of pounds on infrastructure investment in the north of England and the midlands feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times (subscription) reports that ideas for overhaul "include merging the Department for International Trade with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to focus on global trade deals and revitalising poorer areas." It adds that "climate change would again become a separate department, allowing Mr Johnson to claim that he has a commitment to the environment." The article makes no mention of the fate of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

The Financial Times (subscription) reports that "Johnson will tell his newly elected MPs on Monday that the government plans to direct billions of pounds of investment into the midlands and north of England — areas whose support delivered last week’s crushing election victory." The paper says that in a Budget, scheduled for February or March, the chancellor Sajid Javid "will earmark tens of billions of pounds from a £100bn infrastructure fund — spread over a five-year parliament — for the midlands and north."

The Guardian reports that "Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has urged new Tory voters in the north of England to be wary of Conservative promises to invest tens of billions in the region’s infrastructure." The paper quotes Burnham saying: "The issue is people’s lives in the here and now. Clearly the north needs infrastructure but that doesn’t tick the box for the north, which is the way the Westminster world is portraying it now."

An article in The Times says that "portable homes could be built on land due to slip into the sea to allow people to continue to inhabit the area, according to a senior official managing some the country’s most rapidly eroding coastline." The paper says that Karen Thomas, "head of Coastal Partnership East, which manages 92km (57 miles) of coastline in Suffolk and Norfolk on behalf of three councils, said that innovative policies were needed to tackle ‘very, very significant’ erosion caused by frequent and more extreme storms."

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