Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a £3.6 billion boost for left behind towns as he sought to shift the political spotlight from Brexit to the domestic agenda.
Mr Johnson also used a keynote address in Manchester to pledge funding for a new rail link between the city and Leeds, as well as a boost for broadband connectivity and extra resources for crime-fighting.
The emphasis on the domestic agenda continued to fuel speculation the PM is keeping his options open for a snap general election, despite his strong denials.
The PM said: "We are going now to have a £3.6 billion Towns' Fund supporting an initial 100 towns, so that they will get the improved transport and the improved broadband connectivity that they need." The PM gave his backing to the trans-Pennine transport link between Manchester and Leeds which is intended to help "turbo charge" regional growth.