A few weeks before December's election, Boris Johnson gave a speech at the Convention of the North. The conference of northern business leaders took place at the MAGNA science museum in Rotherham, about 20 minutes drive from where I was born in Sheffield.

So I paid great attention to the PM's pitch to the world outside London, as he praised innovative tech firms creating garbage powered refuse lorries and hailing Europe's largest bagel factory being just down the road. By my count he made a dozen or so promises to "level up" the north through infrastructure projects and education funding.

But the core of the speech was the perennial, nebulous promise to give regional leaders "the power to sort out what matters most to local people." He claimed there was a "real enthusiasm for devolution in Yorkshire", which I assure you there is not.

But despite a couple of anti-Brexit heckles in the room, this was where Johnson's demolition of the 'red wall' started. People like being listened to - and this guy was promising to listen. And by the time the decade is out, the people who lent him their votes in December’s poll will let him know whether they've been listened to enough.

If Johnson's ill-advised interactions with Liverpool have taught him anything, it's that Game of Thrones was right - "The North Remembers." If the north continues to be defined by what it isn’t - London - rather than what it is, a loose collection of communities with every bit as much diversity and potential as the South, the north will remember.

See, about two and a half times more was spent on transport for each person in London than in the north in 2018/19, according to IPPR North’s research. The average salary hovers around £9 grand higher in London than in Yorkshire. A study by the Centre for Cities found council spending fell by half nationally between 2010 and 2019 - with areas such as Liverpool, Blackburn and Barnsley facing average cuts twice that of similar towns in the affluent south.

And in the last decade, nearly a third of England’s new jobs were created in London - even though it has just 16% of the population. Of course, predicting the future is a game for mugs and sideshow charlatans - but if you ask me whether these figures will have drastically changed in 2030, my answer would, sadly, be no.

But hopefully, someone will have made a start.

Boris Johnson made all manner of promises to “level up” the “forgotten” and “left behind” towns on the other end of the M1. But drill into the plans, and they mostly boil down to virtue signalling pledges to “move power outside of London”, as if it wasn’t really chronic underfunding and the crumbling of traditional regional industries holding the North back - it was a lack of agency.

In practice that’s previously meant forcing cities to elect their own fall-guy Mayor, who gets a bit of media attention and some budget levers - but who also gets the blame for more things when they go wrong.

Similarly, I wouldn’t recommend placing large bets on Boris Johnson following through on his promise to move the House of Lords to York.

The poster boy of Brexit is never going to make York the Strasbourg to London’s Brussels. And with Johnson also expected to try to neuter the upper chamber as part of his “constitutional review”, moving it to York would probably shift the centre of power in the UK to somewhere around Camden market. The idea that you can move power to the north by allowing its regional leaders to make more decisions is one of the greatest vote-grabbing fallacies in modern politics.

For a start, the great seat of decision making in that there London - the House of Commons - is made up of 650 MPs, who come from all over the country and mostly return to their constituencies at least once a week. Moreover, three of the five metro mayors in the North are - you guessed it - former MPs. Andy Burnham (Manchester), Dan Jarvis (South Yorkshire) and Steve Rotherham (Liverpool) are many things, but strangers to the Westminster bubble they are not.

In reality, power shifts when money gets spent - and it matters precious little who signs the cheques, as long as they get signed.

That said, those budget levers handed to metro mayors include tax-raising privileges. And Treasury insiders are already talking about the post-red wall north as a “petri dish” - where newly installed Conservatives are bringing different ideas to the table. Any firm hoping to keep up with the changes should probably start beefing up its regional policy team now.

Keir Starmer’s potential for an airbrushed yet broadly competent Labour alternative means Johnson’s northern honeymoon might be short-lived. But Prime Minister Starmer is unlikely to make the kind of wrenching changes promised by his predecessor.

One promise to the North I do expect Johnson to deliver on in the next decade is HS2. Because he’ll have to. In a post coronavirus world, the costly rail project is probably unstoppable - despite inevitable objections from the NIMBY contingent on Johnson’s back bench.

Rishi Sunak is staring down the barrel of the worst global recession since the 1930s. And with Johnson promising repeatedly not to follow Osborne and try and recover with a second age of austerity, people are going to need jobs to do.

For once, the sunk cost isn’t a fallacy at all. If we’re going to dig ourselves out of this hole, why not start with the really long hole you’ve already started digging between London and Birmingham? Beyond the economic benefits of construction itself, it’s never been adequately explained why HS2 is going to be the silver bullet that rebalances England’s regional inequalities.

Even if coronavirus has taught businesses they don’t need a costly SW1A postcode to get their work done - it’s unclear to me why being able to get to London 40 minutes quicker would greatly sweeten the deal.

But fear not, here comes a man with a plan. Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotherham makes a compelling case for the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) project connecting Merseyside, Manchester and Hull from east to west.

Here’s his argument: Currently it’s quicker to get from London to Paris than it is to get from Liverpool to Hull. If - and it’s a big if - the UK does actually become a buccaneering, trade haven after Brexit, routes between two of its biggest ports will need a serious upgrade. Elsewhere in the North, the plan would see routes upgraded, which could see the dreaded, ‘bus on rails’ pacer trains retired from the bafflingly slow journey from Sheffield to Manchester.

Transport for the North reckon the boost to trade routes, tourism and interconnectivity will create about 32,000 jobs. Moreover they argue it could allow Northern cities to act as a “single economy” to rival sprawling, greedy London.

But competition doesn’t have to mean winners and losers. Like Lennon and McCartney, one-upping and playing to each other’s strengths, there’s nothing stopping London firms sharing the benefits of a north standing on its own two feet.

But to do that - you’re going to need smart, talented people who are experts in not-London. Luckily, seven of the UK’s 24 Russell Group universities are in the North. It creates smart people in bulk - and currently those smart people are forced to up-sticks and move where the jobs are.

New infrastructure making it at least as easy to travel within the region as it is to travel away from it - alongside a still mind-bending difference in the cost of living outside the capital - could make staying put an attractive prospect. And if lockdown has proven anything, it’s that teams don’t all need to be in the same place to do good work.

Much of Westminster’s grand plan for the north has been on the government’s to-do list for the best part of a decade now. And sadly, aside from a vague promise to upgrade the Transpennine route from Leeds to Manchester, the government has yet to give the green light to projects to modernise interconnectivity in the North.

Steve Rotherham makes the point that London didn’t have to choose between HS2 and Crossrail, so the North shouldn’t have to choose between HS2 and NPR. And there’s the rub. Westminster is perfectly happy to talk about ceding the power to make decisions to not-London.

But there’s a reason Lord Kerslake’s inquiry into regional inequalities was titled UK2070. The levers that need pulling are heavy, rusty and offer little immediate reward to short-termist politicians.

By 2030, hopefully someone will have tugged on at least one.