Yorkshire MPs grill Theresa May about devolution plans

Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Credit should read: House of Commons/PA
Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Credit should read: House of Commons/PA
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Theresa May was today confronted by Yorkshire MPs demanding to know how devolution would now proceed in the region after the Government blocked a Yorkshire-wide deal.

The Prime Minister suggested that a more “localist approach” to redistributing power away from Whitehall would now be pursued after the Communities Secretary last month ruled out the One Yorkshire deal.

Keighly MP John Grogan, who has long-supported the One Yorkshire initiative, referenced legendary cricketer Geoffrey Boycott as he called on Mrs May to compromise with local leaders.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, the Labour MP said: “Given that the Prime Minister and I are both fans of Geoffrey Boycott, who was perhaps not best known for compromise in his prime but like many others has mellowed with the years, and in the spirit of the times will the Prime Minister find time in her busy diary to look at the compromise proposals for the important subject of Yorkshire devolution as advanced by the Mayor of South Yorkshire?”

She replied: “We are looking seriously at issues around Yorkshire devolution. I know this has caused some concern and there have been different opinions as to how that should be taken forward and he references Geoffrey Boycott.

“Can I say that one of the things I have always admired about Geoffrey Boycott was that he made sure he stayed at the crease, he kept going and he got his century in the end.”

Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake also raised the issue, but called for a smaller deal centred around York and North Yorkshire.

He said: “Now that her Secretary of State has ruled out devolution to the whole of Yorkshire, would she now consider a devolution deal to the York City Region, to include the city of York and the glorious county of North Yorkshire?”

Mrs May replied: “We recognise that there is an enthusiasm, there’s a dedication in Yorkshire to the concept of devolution and to the ability and the potential devolution has to release and harness local people’s sense of identity with Yorkshire and to be of ongoing benefit to the people of Yorkshire.

“We do need to find the right proposals that will suit the area...

“The Communities Secretary has now met the Yorkshire leaders, discussions are continuing with them about a different localist approach to devolution in Yorkshire from the one that did not meet our criteria, namely the One Yorkshire proposal.”