THE East Lancashire former minister behind a letter from 41 Tory MPs telling Boris Johnson to ensure the North does not get left behind after coronavirus has admitted it is a ‘reminder’ of his party’s election promises.

Rossendale and Darwen backbencher Jake Berry organised the message to the Prime Minister which calls for ‘a clear pathway’ out of tough Covid-19 restrictions on Lancashire and nearby areas.

It has been signed by Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe and her Burnley backbench colleague Antony Higginbotham who were part of a ‘Blue Wave’ of Conservatives winning seats in traditional Labour areas in December’s General Election.

The letter from the Northern Research Group says: “We share concerns that the cost of Covid could be paid for by the downgrading of the levelling-up agenda, and northern constituencies like ours will be left behind.

“We believe this would threaten to undermine the Government’s hard-won mandate in December. Our constituents have been some of the worst affected by Covid. We urge you to make our region central to the country’s economic recovery.”

Former Northern Powerhouse minister Mr Berry told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It is a reminder this government was elected on a commitment to level up the North and it must not allow Covid to blow that off course.

“We have been subject to lockdown measures since March and it is it is reasonable to ask about how we exit from these restrictions. East Lancashire needs a strategy for Covid recovery.”

Blackburn Labour MP Kate Hollern said: “Jake Berry failed as Northern Powerhouse minister to make the government care about his region. Now he appears to have turned into the shop steward for Northern Tory MPs worried about losing their seats.”

READ > Q&A: What could Lancashire's roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions involve?

Miss Britcliffe said: “We were elected as Northern representatives and we are making the compelling case for investment in our communities.”

Mr Higginbotham said: “I was elected on a very clear promise to deliver real change for Burnley. The challenges of Covid-19 cannot knock us off course. We need a route map out for the future.”

Pendle MP and transport minister Andrew Stephenson said: “The Prime Minister remains committed to levelling up. I am proud to be one of the key ministers delivering that agenda.”

A Number 10 spokesman said: “We are absolutely committed to levelling up across the country and building back better after coronavirus.”