Diana Wallis: Government musn’t get away with Yorkshire devolution secrecy

I AM a southerner, born and bred in Hertfordshire and I learnt my trade as a lawyer in London.

The Government has refused to reveal the advice it received before rejecting One Yorkshire devolution.

I moved to Yorkshire 27 years ago. It is now unequivocally my home and where my heart is, especially so having represented the region in the European Parliament for 12 years.

Perhaps it is my southern background which gives me some insight into why Westminster does not get Yorkshire.

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I know that before I came to live in Yorkshire all those years ago I did not understand that the North was indeed another country, with people with different accents and almost another way of life.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire is under pressure to reveal the advice that he received prior to rejecting the One Yorkshire devolution submission.

I remember when I applied for university my top choices were Bristol and Hull, but frankly Hull made me nervous.

I had never been there and the usual misconceptions about the city came to mind.

In the event, neither university accepted me and I ended up in London.

This was on my mind as I drove south to a conference in Oxford.

Of course, I can still be comfortable in the South, but I see it differently and I wonder how many southerners really get the North?

Of course this is no excuse for leading politicians who should take time and trouble to stand in the shoes of those they govern or represent.

Above all they should listen.

This is my fear in the current political shambles we are living through: Brexit dominates, but the causes of Brexit in the North are ignored.

The Government thinks the answer is to bung us a few pounds if we behave, but that money is still far less than what our councils received before.

This cannot be right – we must react.

The answer has to go deeper than that.

It is about power. The power necessary to improve people’s daily lives.

London, even with this minority government, clings on with a deafness to a controlling mentality, certain that it can dictate outcomes for all.

Pro-European though I am, I would be the first to admit there is as much to question about the Brussels bubble as the Westminster one, but on balance I would rather have power diffused through two bubbles.

Indeed I would add a further bubble: a devolved regional level. Having more checks and balances is our guarantee that no-one has too much power.

The idea that London can refuse One Yorkshire devolution without revealing the criteria against which this is judged or the analysis behind this rejection is monstrous.

It beggars belief that a government can be so unchecked as to allege such a disclosure of analysis or criteria to be not in the public interest.

Only in a Brexit-obsessed atmosphere, where the subject matter does not concern London, could they get away with this.

This decision on non-disclosure must be challenged.

Government is obliged to make decisions in an appropriate, reasonable and transparent manner.

If it does not, it should be reviewed through the courts.

The time for Mr Nice Guy has passed.

It maybe a caricature but the awkward belligerent Yorkshire character needs to step out and show these Westminster types what’s up!

Yorkshire deserves better.

Diana Wallis was a Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber from 1999 to 2012. She is now a Yorkshire Party member.