The ongoing debate of Yorkshire devolution continued today as Dan Jarvis pressured Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Jake Berry further on the government’s position with regard to the growing devolution movement and whether the government would accept his outlined plan of greater economic and political powers by 2020.
The recent Brexit referendum result has compounded desire and catalysed momentum for the movement. Mr Jarvis added both share similar symptoms of “Overwhelming powerlessness and ambition to take back control” especially as South Yorkshire receive £300 less per person, contributing to the widening North South Divide. This was widely supported among the Labour MPs present including York Central MP Rachael Maskell, who supported the wider Yorkshire plan to “create the best opportunities for each community.”
However Jake Berry’s response that the government will consider Yorkshire devolution in due course because of more pressing matters, much to the dismay of Labour MPs, clearly demonstrated the inability of this government to resolve the institutional divide between central government and local communities. This was aptly put by Hilary Benn MP who described the government’s position of not being willful enough, as “where there is a will, there’s a way” and you need look no further than Brexit to corroborate that statement.
Despite the SNP describing neutrality with regard to the question of Yorkshire devolution SNP MP Tommy Sheppard described how his party and Scotland will watch the “devolution debates with great interest” as the constitutional basis of England is challenged and changed.
The debate comes after Barnsley and Doncaster, the constituencies for both Mr Jarvis and former Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband, overwhelmingly voted for a ‘One Yorkshire’ plan that is backed by both MPs opposing the government’s plan to back a Sheffield City region. This is forcing the arm of the government as Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, has now proposed an initial interim Sheffield region, which will then have the opportunity to encompass more of the county.
Greater details about the impact and how Yorkshire devolution will be practically carried out will be further discussed on Friday 12th January in York at a meeting for the ‘Coalition of the Willing’.