As NP11 launches the Manifesto for the North, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership has published the following open letter to Conservative leader Boris Johnston, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson:

The North-South divide was one of the primary causes of the Brexit vote.

The alienation felt by working class communities facing the hard realities of decades of de-industrialisation.

Young people held back due to a lack of opportunities, in education and in getting on and into a high skilled job.

The North needs to be a place of hope, to turn back the tide of those left behind wherever they live, town or city, whatever their identity and whatever their background.

This election offers the three main parties a golden opportunity no government in living memory has achieved – to rebalance the UK economy, capturing a trillion pound economic gain for the country over the coming decades.

The Power Up the North campaign this summer saw 33 regional newspapers, including those owned by Newsquest Cumbria, across the North join forces to call on the major political parties to commit to the Northern Powerhouse in full.

The forthcoming election is the chance to truly demonstrate this commitment, as northern voters decisions will be what the result will likely rest on.

Today, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership is calling on Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson to each pledge to come to the North to make a keynote speech addressing the critical issues that matter to the 15 million people living here.

Beyond Brexit, we are challenging those leaders to focus on tackling the inequalities that exist between North and South, the barriers to a balanced country.

Our train network has had no new line from West to East since the Victorian era, and its lack of reliability and capacity causes misery for commuters and sluggish productivity for businesses.

We need major infrastructure investment; not, as some would suggest, having to choose between HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail but seeing both delivered in full, all the way, north to south, east to west.

Improving local bus services alongside trams, the lifeblood of communities, must also be a commitment.

A significant number of Northern schools lag behind other parts of the country. The main reason for this is the social disadvantage in many children's backgrounds.

Establishing a new Northern Schools Board, together with increased funding and further powers for elected mayors and combined authorities over skills, could narrow the educational attainment gap whilst getting our whole workforce to embrace the opportunities of the next Industrial Revolution.

The key to unlocking the potential of the Northern Powerhouse is devolution – giving greater control to our regional leaders to tackle challenges and embrace opportunities in their area. We are calling on candidates to grant 100 per cent devolution to the North, and increased powers for those areas with existing deals.

The prize for whichever party that wins the election is huge.

This election cannot be and must not be purely about Brexit.

It must also be about the transformational chance to rebalance the UK and create a country that works for everyone.

When the parties publish their manifestos, we will publish an independent view on what it means for the North and highlight where your commitments could have gone further or if any of your proposals will put back the cause of rebalancing Britain for the better.