AS A former mayor of London, Boris Johnson clearly understands the potential of devolution far more than Theresa May did – hence the White Paper in a Queen’s Speech now on hold because of Brexit.
Yet, while there is acceptance, both here and in Whitehall, that Yorkshire’s devolution deadlock must not be allowed to fester any longer, all leaders should heed Michael Heseltine’s latest intervention.
A former Deputy Prime Minister who has spent the past four decades championing inner city regeneration after becoming Environment Secretary in 1979, he knows exactly how central government actually works in practice and, more tellingly, does not.
It is why he wants a Cabinet Minister specifically tasked with overseeing the transfer of powers to English local authorities – Lord Heseltine says Ministers spend too much time prioritising ‘pet’ schemes and that too much power rests with an over-centralised Treasury.
However, it is the passion with which this political grandee spoke in the House of Lords that will have wider resonance here. He is right when he says that elected mayors should control education and skills because this will be fundamental to the success, or otherwise, of local industrial strategies.
Tellingly, he also believes, as a new Rural Commission begins work in North Yorkshire, that countryside communities must not be viewed in isolation. “If you want really to empower the countryside and enrich it, it must be enjoined with the wealth-creating centres that it surrounds,” he advises.
And then there is Lord Heseltine’s urgency: “Let us get the real job done here.” Hard-hitting words spoken in the context of devolution, they also matter when it is estimated that a One Yorkshire devolution deal could be worth £30bn a year – an opportunity which this region, and country, cannot afford to spurn at a time of so much Brexit uncertainty.