Boris Johnson has promised mayors in the North of England more control over their railways, with “London-style” powers to set train fares, timetables and budgets.
Speaking at the Convention of the North, a conference in Rotherham organised by 11 local enterprise partnerships in the North of England, the prime minister announced his intention “to give the railways of the north back to the people of the north.”
Mr Johnson lamented the fact that many Northern cities still have “to put up with old diesel trains, running once or twice an hour, from stations where the only form of welcome on the platform is a bus shelter.”
Repurposing the slogan of the 2016 Leave campaign, he promised to help “people to take back control and lead as they want to.”
This would be made possible by “generous capital funding” for transport, he said.
Mr Johnson's speech was overshadowed by a heckler who challenged him about the suspension of parliament, hours after a woman in Doncaster accused him of telling fairy tales about Brexit and spending.
But the prime minister insisted that “shenanigans” in Westminster would not distract him from “preparing to take this country out of the EU on October 31st.”
It comes as Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice welcomed the decision by ten independent councillors in Hartlepool to join the Brexit Party, making Hartlepool the first Brexit Party-controlled council in the North East.
“Regardless of the shenanigans in Westminster”, Mr Tice said, “Brexiteers in the North East are pushing to take back control so they can respect the Brexit vote.”
The Brexit Party councillors joined with three pro-Brexit Conservative councillors, giving the group control of the 33-seat council.
The news is a significant blow to the Labour Party, who lost overall control of the council in May, its leader blaming a "divided party" unable to retain support in heavily Leave voting towns.
Mike Hill, the Labour MP for Hartlepool, said he was surprised the Tory councillors had "jumped into bed with the Brexit Party."
The Brexit Party's Shane Moore, now Hartlepool Council leader, said: "In a town like Hartlepool that overwhelming voted to leave the EU, people will be sat watching the events unfolding in Westminster in disbelief.
"We want to send a very clear message to the Labour Party and other politicians, that we won't sit idly by and allow them to block Brexit.”
Almost 70% of Hartlepool voters backed Leave in 2016.